Guide to Missouri Confederate Units 1861-1865 – REVIEW

April 28, 2008

Civil War St. Louis Reviews…

Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865 By James E. McGhee

Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865

Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865
by James E. McGhee

Now available from Amazon.com

Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865

By James E. McGhee

Non-fiction

Hardcover: 314 pages, 22 photos
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press (April, 2008)
Price: $34.95
ISBN: 1557288704
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.3 inches

Reviewed by G. E. Rule

It sucks mightily to lose a civil war, and in a host of ways. The obvious result, of course, is that the cause you were willing to spend your blood and treasure on is lost. Less obvious, but even longer lasting, are some of the ancillary consequences. For instance, you might have a little thing called “Reconstruction” if you lived in a state that the victors were kind enough to concede was officially (by their definition) “in rebellion”. What happened to you in a state that was not “official” in the victor’s eyes (see: A Minirant on the Number of Confederate States) was arguably even nastier (see: Oath of Loyalty). And aside from official consequences, one could read in local newspapers for years after of the sad and unofficial results of night riders thundering down a farm lane after dark to call out an ex-rebel to his final moments on a country porch in front of his wife and family.

Then, of course, is one of the hoariest truisms in all of historiography –“the victors write the history”. This means that learned gentlemen shall come behind your bleeding corpse and explain to generations yet unborn why your defeat was inevitable, justified, and really quite to the benefit of all, often with an air of dispassionate smugness that explicitly or implicitly gives the impression that they’d have done much better than the actual actors had history chosen them to land its sledgehammer of unhappiness upon.

But here’s another terribly important thing to consider about why the victors typically get to write the history on a civil war –in general, the victors have much, much better record keeping.

Certainly this was true about the losing side of the American Civil War as it played out in Missouri from the years 1861-1865. Driven from the state in the early days of the war, such bureaucracy as the Confederate government-in-exile that the Missourians had was harried, underfunded, and barely functional. Such recruiting as the Confederacy was able to do in Missouri was typically done under the noses of the Union forces who kinda-sorta controlled the state, more-or-less, for most of the war. Confederate recruiting efforts were ongoing for most of that period, though typically in identifiable waves. Add to this amazingly higgledy-piggledy situation the fact that often there were as many as four levels of pro-Confederate recruiting going on –that for official Confederate forces; those for the pro-Confederate Missouri State Guard; those for unofficial local pro-Confederate militias (these typically in the early days of the war – see Ab Grimes’ hilarious account of his and Mark Twain’s early experiences for an example); and those for the infamous pro-Confederate guerrilla groups such as those led by Bill Quantrill and William Anderson. Any way you look at it, trying to recreate even the basic records that good history writing requires in such a situation is obviously quite a challenge.

As we get in range of the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the American Civil War, a new book by James E. McGhee and the University of Arkansas Press addresses at least part of the problem –official Confederate units from Missouri.

First, a word about the University of Arkansas Press “Civil War in the West” series of which the current title is part. The word is a simple “Bravo”. As anyone reading these words can reliably be assumed to be a devotee of the Civil War in Missouri, we can not provide a stronger recommendation than the one we do for the University of Arkansas’ series.

As for the author, Jim McGhee, we must first admit a partiality. Jim is a friend of the site (see: First Missouri Confederate Brigade by James E. McGhee). But then Jim is a friend of anyone who toils seriously to shed illumination on the less well-lit corners of the civil war in Missouri (see: The Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds) and has been for more years than he might like to be reminded of (see: U.S. Grant and the Belmont Campaign by James E. McGhee).

At any rate, we cannot imagine anyone better qualified to have written Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865, and the book he has produced does not disappoint. Separated into three sections, one each for Artillery (20 batteries), Cavalry (26 regiments, 7 battalions, and 3 squadrons), and Infantry (12 regiments and 1 battalion), he has produced the definitive guide to official Confederate units from Missouri. Each unit receives a biographical sketch of its composition and career from its inception by one of the leading authorities of the war in Missouri. Just as lovely, if you are even half the geek that we are, is the bibliography of sources given for each unit’s history.

It’s not often that we feel a need to quote someone else’s opinion of a book we’re reviewing. But sometimes, someone else says it at least as well as you can say it yourself. In this case, we tip the cap to series editors Daniel Sutherland and T. Michael Parrish for the best thumbnail description of what McGhee has accomplished with this title: “. . . his expertise is evident on every page of this book. The scope of the work is startling, the depth of detail gratifying, its reliability undeniable, and the unit narratives highly readable”. You can’t ask for more than that from any history book, and while the cause of the Missouri Confederates is still lost, at least it has become a wee bit more possible for their history to be written accurately because of the efforts of James E. McGhee and the University of Arkansas press.

The Neophyte General – US Grant and the Belmont Campaign

The Neophyte General:

U. S. Grant and the Belmont Campaign

by James E. McGhee

Copyright 1973 James E. McGhee. Used with Permission.

This is copyrighted material–the article, the pictures, and the introduction–and may not be copied or reproduced in any form, including on other websites, without permission of the authors.

James E. McGhee is a retired lawyer with an avid interest in the Missouri State Guard and Missouri Confederate units. His latest book is Missouri Confederates: A Guide to Sources for Confederate Soldiers and Units, 1861-1865 (Independence, Mo.: Two Trails Publishing, 2001). McGhee’s titles are available from Camp Pope Bookshop. The article below first appeared in the Missouri Historical Review, Volume 67, Issue 4, July 1973.

In the spring of 1885 Ulysses S. Grant raced against death to complete his memoirs. While suffering from an agonizing throat cancer that greatly impaired his ability to speak, he spent long hours compiling reference notes and quietly assessing his life and accomplishments. The determined general won this last battle, for he completed the reminiscences one week before his death.[1]

A model of military writing, Grant’s Personal Memoirs provided narratives of his experiences in two wars, including a chapter that related the details of his initial Civil War command in the engagement at Belmont, Missouri. Surprisingly, Grant concluded the chapter by attempting to justify his reasons for fighting the battle.[2] After the passage of almost a quarter of a century, it was ironic that the conqueror of Vicksburg and Robert E. Lee still deemed it necessary to offer an explanation of that first and rather minor campaign.

Comments of the press immediately after Belmont, coupled with the political embarrassment caused by the engagement later on, may have motivated Grant to pen a justification of the battle in his memoirs. Initial newspaper reactions, while mixed, tended to be unfavorable. One distant New York editor wrote that the Belmont expedition had been no less than disastrous, while opinion in western papers varied from doubts of the battle’s value to an open pronouncement of defeat.[3] In addition, complaints sprang up from the ranks; one northern officer observed that if Belmont had been a great victory as so many claimed he hoped God would spare them defeat![4] Later, moreover, Grant’s political opponents raised the subject of Belmont during the presidential campaign of 1868.[5] No doubt such criticism lingered with Grant for a long time.

Research suggests that the controversy that surrounded Grant’s actions in the Belmont campaign may well have been justified, and quite probably the battle should never have been fought. Certainly Grant’s stated reasons for entering the engagement were open to argument. Tactically the battle plan Grant followed was extremely risky, and if his opponents had not blundered so badly his entire command could have been captured or destroyed. Finally, far from accomplishing any worthwhile objectives, the campaign lacked strategic effect.

Grant’s first step toward the bloody field of Belmont occurred on September 1, 1861, when he assumed command of the District of Southeast Missouri at Cape Girardeau. His area of responsibility encompassed most of Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Both regions appeared to be threatened by the new Confederacy and were therefore scenes of a substantial military build-up by the federal government. Grant seemed pleased with the assignment, writing later that his district ranked third in importance in the country.[6]

Shortly after taking command Grant moved his headquarters to Cairo, Illinois. In the view of Major General John C. Frémont, commander of the Department of the West and Grant’s immediate superior, Cairo was the key to Union control of the Upper Mississippi Valley. Strategically situated at the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, Frémont considered Cairo a logical control point for area defense and offensive operations as well.[7] Grant assessed the military situation in his district less than a week after he established his new command post. He described an increasing concentration of rebel forces in Kentucky and Missouri and forecasted an enemy attack in the near future.[8]

Grant’s prediction of an early enemy offensive proved groundless, but the Confederate threat along his front was very real indeed. On September 3 regiments belonging to the command of Major General Leonidas Polk entered neutral Kentucky and occupied the important military point of Columbus on the Mississippi River.[9] Polk quickly fortified Columbus by emplacing a large number of guns that commanded the river traffic. He also established an observation post directly opposite Columbus on the Missouri side of the river. The small encampment was situated in a marshy area near a boat landing at the obscure hamlet of Belmont.[10]

Another concern plagued Grant in addition to Polk’s activities, for lurking somewhere in the vast swamps of Southeast Missouri was a bothersome and elusive brigadier of the secessionist Missouri State Guard, M. Jeff Thompson. In recognition of his exploits in the backwaters the effervescent Thompson had earned the sobriquet “Swamp Fox of the Confederacy,” and his Missourians excelled in partisan tactics. While probably more noisy than dangerous, Thompson’s troops had nevertheless been a source of worry to the Federals since midsummer and had successfully evaded all attempts to draw them into battle.[11]

With Polk and Thompson threatening from the south, Grant devoted his efforts to organizing and training his recently enlisted volunteers. In addition to the base at Cairo, the District of Southeast Missouri included garrisons at Paducah, Kentucky, Bird’s Point, Cape Girardeau and Pilot Knob, Missouri, with a combined troop strength that approached seventeen thousand soldiers of all arms.[12] During the early fall months Grant insured that his men were drilled and disciplined in preparation for the fighting that he knew must come.

While the necessity of teaching infantry assault formations to raw Federal troops was time consuming, it did not mean that Grant ignored the enemy along the Mississippi. Much to the contrary, he desired to commence offensive operations, wanting very much to strike the Confederate redoubt at Columbus. In fact, he petitioned department headquarters for permission to move against Polk on no less than three occasions during September.[13] Later he reported that only the lack of essential equipment prohibited him from driving Polk out of his defensive position.[14] Nothing came of this talk, however, and relative quiet prevailed along his front. But in late October a distant campaign in Southwest Missouri changed the situation almost overnight.

On September 27 General Frémont had moved a large army toward Springfield in an attempt to defeat a force of rebels congregated under Major General Sterling Price. Frémont was under extreme pressure to destroy Price, because the latter had greatly embarrassed the Lincoln administration with dramatic victories at Wilson’s Creek and Lexington.[15] Late October found the Federals at Springfield expecting to meet the secessionists in battle. Frémont may have become concerned over possible reinforcements for Price from Polk’s army at this point, for on November 1, Grant received orders to hold his command ready to make demonstrations in the direction of Columbus.[16]

Grant’s instructions called for movements along both sides of the Mississippi River. Points to be threatened were designated as Charleston and Norfolk, Missouri, and Blandville, Kentucky. He was directed to keep his columns moving back and forth against those places without, however, attacking the enemy.[17] Grant started preparations for the expedition, but before he could put his troops in motion orders arrived that substantially expanded his assigned mission.

New orders appeared the next day over the signature of Frémont’s adjutant, Captain Chauncey McKeever. The captain informed Grant that the troublesome Jeff Thompson, along with three thousand rebels, had been located at Indian Ford some twenty miles west of Bloomfield. A Federal detachment had started in pursuit of Thompson from Pilot Knob, and Grant was advised to supplement that force with additional troops from Cape Girardeau and Bird’s Point. These columns would then cooperate in driving Thompson out of Missouri into Arkansas.[18] Grant immediately set about implementing this latest plan.

To Colonel Richard Oglesby, commander at Bird’s Point, went instructions to move units up the Mississippi by transports to Commerce. He would then march to Sikeston and from that point pursue Thompson in any direction necessary. Expanding the original orders somewhat, Grant told Oglesby the purpose of the expedition was to destroy Thompson’s force. Pursuant to orders, Oglesby proceeded to Commerce on November 3 with approximately three thousand men. A similar column departed Cape Girardeau three days later in a march toward Bloomfield. The expedition against the Missourians drew heavily from Grant’s command, but he soon faced even greater demands on his troop resources as once again the situation rapidly changed.[19]

On Tuesday, November 5, Grant received an urgent telegram from headquarters indicating that Polk was reinforcing Price’s army from Columbus. In order to counter that move the message directed Grant to initiate the previously ordered demonstrations. The telegram intimated that like instructions had been dispatched to General C. F. Smith, the Federal commander at Paducah, outlining a similar operation on the Kentucky side of the river.[20] Heavily involved in the attempt to chastise Thompson, Grant now had the added responsibility of preventing reinforcements from leaving Columbus and moving to Price’s assistance. Failure in this threatened serious trouble for Frémont’s campaign in the Missouri Ozark country.

Unfortunately, Federal headquarters relied on erroneous reports. Jeff Thompson, supposedly in strength at Indian Ford, actually occupied Bloomfield, where he quickly learned of the columns advancing to entrap his militiamen. Moreover, Polk had no intention of reinforcing Price or anyone else for that matter. In October Polk had refused Thompson’s request for troops in nearby Southeast Missouri and had been sustained in his decision by his superiors. Furthermore, Price did not solicit help until November 7, the day of the fight at Belmont, when he wired the Confederate commander in the West, General Albert S. Johnson, and suggested cooperation in a march on St. Louis.[21] Federal intelligence in this instance, as so often happened to both sides during the Civil War, seemingly depended on sources of dubious reliability.

Grant, of course, had to act on information supplied by his headquarters regardless of its veracity. He therefore boarded three thousand troops on transports and prepared to move down the Mississippi. In a communication to General Smith he outlined the combined operation in progress against Thompson and described the expedition he was undertaking to “menace” Belmont. Grant suggested that if Smith could make a demonstration toward Columbus, Polk would probably be unable to reinforce the Belmont garrison. And unless the rebels there received support, Grant believed he could drive them out of Missouri.[22]

As a result of the changed circumstances, Grant also sent new orders to Colonel Oglesby that instructed him to march his command in the direction of New Madrid. When Oglesby reached a point on his line of march from which a road led to Columbus, he was to halt and communicate with Grant at Belmont.[23] Entrusting delivery of the somewhat confusing message to a small unit led by Colonel W. H. L. Wallace, and directing him to join Oglesby when the two were near enough, Grant started his army south.[24]

On the night of November 6 the Federal flotilla of four transports and two gunboats anchored nine miles below Cairo. At 2:00 a.m. a courier arrived from Wallace. A “reliable Union man” reported Confederates crossing from Columbus to Belmont with the intention of cutting off the column under Oglesby. Such a movement seemed likely to Grant, and he immediately decided to turn the demonstrations desired by headquarters into an attack on the rebel camp at Belmont. Orders were issued to proceed that morning at first light.[25]

Grant’s convoy suffered a slight delay in getting underway, but by 8:30 a.m. Federal troops disembarked at Hunter’s Farm, a landing area two miles northwest of Belmont that lay out of effective range of the heavy guns at Columbus. While officers attempted to assemble troops in regimental organizations, Grant marched five companies south of the farm on the road to Belmont and deployed them in a ravine. This detachment of two hundred fifty men constituted the transport guard and was the only reserve available if the Federals happened to be repulsed.[26] Grant then returned to the landing area where he prepared his command for combat. The Union brigades moved forward in column for about a mile and took positions on the edge of a cornfield. Soon a skirmish line proceeded across a dry slough that paralleled the battle line to ascertain the enemy positions. Immediate contact with the rebels resulted.[27]

Grant’s men encountered Confederate cavalry elements sent forward to reconnoiter the Federal advance. Polk had been advised of the approach of the convoy at 7:30 a.m. He could scarcely believe the movement against Belmont could be anything other than a feint and thought the main thrust would be directed against the fort at Columbus. Nevertheless, he reluctantly dispatched General Gideon Pillow across the river with four infantry regiments, and an additional regiment followed shortly thereafter.[28]

Colonel James Tappan, commander of the Belmont post, met Pillow on the riverbank. Prior to Pillow’s arrival he had placed the garrison of seven hundred men and available pieces of artillery in position to guard the approaches to the small encampment.[29] Pillow, after a hasty inspection of Tappan’s troop dispositions, redeployed the battery and most of the infantry. At this point Pillow seemed to have the situation well in hand, for his force equaled Grant’s in numbers, and he had the added advantage of selecting a defensive position.[30] Once Pillow completed his line of defense he ordered the cavalry to advance and locate the enemy. The horsemen moved to the front and quickly engaged the Federal skirmishers.

Grant’s small army consisted of two brigades commanded by General John McClernand and Colonel Henry Dougherty, respectively. McClernand led the First Brigade, consisting of the Twenty-seventy, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first Illinois infantry regiments, two companies of cavalry, and Battery B, First Illinois Artillery. Dougherty’s brigade, much inferior to McClernand’s in numbers and firepower, included two regiments of infantry, the Seventh Iowa and Twenty-second Illinois.[31] Grant formed his troops with Dougherty’s brigade holding the left flank and McClernand’s responsible for the right. Battery B unlimbered behind the infantry in the cornfield.[32] Once the formation of his battle line was completed, Grant turned his attention to the engagement along the slough.

A substantial firefight had developed in front of the Union position. Neither side demonstrated any reluctance to engage the enemy even though this was the first time under fire for Federal and Confederate alike.[33] As the exchange of small-arms fire increased in intensity, a heavy but largely ineffective cannonade from the Columbus batteries rained down on the Federal right flank. McClernand, anxious to meet the enemy at close quarter, ordered his brigade forward. The rebel cavalry, unable to withstand the pressure, retreated through the dense woods with the Union forces in cautious pursuit.[34]

Pillow’s chosen defensive line blocked only the main road leading from Hunter’s Farm to Belmont. Two infantry regiments were deployed in a wooded area on the right that provided adequate cover. Inexplicably, the remaining three regiments of infantry and the battery were situated in front of a slight rise in an open field. Pillow’s dispositions could hardly have been worse. In fact one regimental commander complained to General Polk after the battle that a less favorable location for defense was unimaginable.[35]

Grant’s troops had probed through the woods, and when the rebel line came into view the Federals immediately attacked. The Confederates, as a consequence of being placed in an exposed position, found themselves confronted by an enemy protected by heavy timber some eighty yards distant. A thirty minute engagement took place at this point, the viciousness of which threw the Union forces into temporary disorder, while Grant had his horse shot from beneath him.[36]

The Federals soon gained the initiative after repelling two offensive thrusts by the Confederates. Pillow, hard pressed by an enemy that threatened to outflank his position, made a costly decision, ordering a charge across the open terrain against the Union infantry concealed in the distant trees.[37] The rebels gallantly rushed forward but failed to reach the Federal line. Exposed to a withering fire, they retired and attempted to regroup. Shortly thereafter an effort to turn the Federal left also failed. Grant’s army began passing around both Confederate flanks, causing Pillow to order a retreat to the river encampment.[38]

The post of Belmont encompassed seven hundred acres of low, marshy ground surrounded by a flimsy abatis. Pillow’s men hurriedly retired to these crude fortifications and took up new defensive positions.[39] Meanwhile the Federals approached the camp in a formation resembling a widespread arc. Grant’s brigade commanders then closed the long lines so as to threaten three sides of the outpost. After a temporary halt to realign regiments, the Union infantry rushed forward. The ensuing struggle was short but fierce with casualties heavy on both sides. Battery B fired numerous barrages in the rebel ranks, causing Pillow’s soldiers to seek shelter along the embankment bordering the river. Nearly surrounded and badly demoralized, many of the Confederates retreated up the riverbank in a desperate effort to escape capture.[40]

Grant’s troops swept into the nearly deserted camp. A rebel battery, which had been abandoned, was quickly secured and a number of prisoners taken. Federal soldiers shortly turned to gleefully rummaging through tents for souvenirs, while General McClernand, lately an Illinois congressman, led the troops in three cheers for the Union.[41] A regimental band struck up the national anthem and then gave its rendition of “Dixie.” In short, Grant’s victorious army turned into little more than an undisciplined mob. Furthermore, the troops ignored all pleas to stop looting until Grant finally ordered his officers to burn the camp’s tents in the hope of directing attention to Confederate reinforcements crossing from Columbus.[42]

Polk hesitated in sending assistance to Pillow early in the battle. He was preoccupied with the threat posed against Columbus by the troops from Paducah under Smith’s command. But once Polk concluded that he need not fear their activities, he moved to reverse the disaster on the Missouri shore. Seeing that all was lost unless more troops were put across the river, he dispatched two additional regiments of infantry and prepared two more for deployment. The sight of the burning tents verified Federal occupation of Belmont, and Polk ordered the heavy artillery at Columbus to fire into the camp.[43] The bursting shells did much to assist Grant in gaining control over his near riotous soldiers as their elation quickly changed to panic.

While Grant worked to bring organization back into his ranks, someone saw rebels landing above Belmont and spread the word of impending disaster. A number of Grant’s officers informed him that the army was surrounded and urged surrender as the only honorable course of action. Rejecting such pleas, Grant finally succeeded in moving his troops back in the direction of their landing area at Hunter’s Farm. The retreat became a running fight as the rejuvenated Confederates counter-attacked.[44]

General Pillow had gradually restored order in his badly demoralized regiments following their initial rout. He took the newly arrived reinforcements, along with remnants of his original command, and struck Grant’s retreating army on front and flank.[45] Along the road to Hunter’s Farm a series of sharp, bloody encounters between groups of disorganized troops occurred. Casualties were once again heavy, especially among the straggling Federals.[46] Eventually the Unionists cut open an avenue of escape and hurried to their transports and relative safety.

Grant assessed his tactical situation as the soldiers rushed to board the waiting boats. He found that much had gone awry. The transport guard, so badly needed at this point, had already retreated to the landing area.[47] Also, due to the precipitate withdrawal, all of the dead and many of the wounded Federals remained on the field.[48] Another matter of concern was that an entire regiment, the Twenty-seventh Illinois, had become separated from the command when the retreat commenced and still remained unaccounted for.[49] As Grant mulled over the day’s events the Confederates closed in on the transports.

Polk crossed the river at this juncture and personally directed the rebel forces against the rapidly embarking Federals. Between the boats and rebels a lone figure on horseback hurried toward the river. A gangplank was extended from one of the transports and the rider and his horse slid down the bank and crossed onto the boat. The last Union soldier to leave the field, Grant dismounted and went up to the upper deck for one last look at the enemy. He watched as the Confederates rushed to the bank and commenced shooting into the convoy of troopships, only to be driven back by a hail of canister from the gunboats.[50]

En route to Cairo the Federals rested quietly. To the relief of everyone, the Twenty-seventh Illinois was observed some miles up the river and brought safely aboard. Grant noted that each of his men viewed Belmont as a great victory.[51] This apparently impressed Grant very much, and his after battle report indicated that he shared his men’s opinion.

Grant’s report to headquarters tended toward generalizations and contained some inaccuracies. While claiming that the Confederate casualties greatly exceeded his own, he underestimated his losses by over a hundred. He applauded the conduct of both his men and the gunboat crews, but made no mention of the loss of control over the men after the camp had been captured. Grant explained that the message from Wallace had convinced him to strike Belmont and surmised that the attack had prevented Oglesby from being cut off. In addition, he thought that Polk would be forced to refrain from dispatching any reinforcements to Price. Lastly, Grant believed that the experience had inspired confidence in his men that would be invaluable in future engagements.[52]

The Confederates likewise proclaimed a victory at Belmont. Polk told of defeating a vastly superior force that had intended to strike at both Belmont and Columbus. He cited the bravery of his soldiers and reported possession of an enemy flag, over a thousand stand of arms and quantities of military equipment of various types. The Confederate Congress joined in the celebration by addressing a resolution of thanks to the soldiers of Polk’s command.[53]

Ten days after the battle Grant’s medical officer submitted a supplementary report that reflected the final casualty figures for the Union army. The Federals suffered losses of 607 at Belmont, including 120 killed, 383 wounded, and 104 captured or missing.[54] The casualties amounted to about twenty percent of those engaged, a high percentage in the early phases of the war. An estimated five thousand Confederates actively participated in the battle. Polk’s report listed 105 killed, 419 wounded, and 117 missing, for a total of 641, or about thirteen percent of the number that saw action.[55]

Grant learned the results of the other columns involved in the combined operations a few days after returning to Cairo. In Kentucky C. F. Smith followed his orders rather explicitly, conducting a demonstration against Columbus and little more. Two of the three groups that had attempted to ensnare Thompson converged at Bloomfield only to discover that the wily “Swamp Fox” had escaped to the South. The Federals heard of the “defeat” at Belmont while at Bloomfield and returned to their home bases without accomplishing anything of lasting value.[56]

Thus the Belmont campaign ended, and it quickly became the subject of a controversy that was never entirely forgotten by Grant. Oddly enough the criticism emanated from unofficial sources, for apparently neither the administration nor the army ever gave the battle a second thought. Nothing in the public record indicated that Belmont affected Grant’s military career one way or another. His final word on the matter had been his justification of the engagement in his memoirs. Grant noted that critics claimed that the battle had been wholly unnecessary and barren of results. The Confederate threat to Oglesby’s column necessitated his action, Grant maintained, and had he not struck the enemy Oglesby would probably have been captured or destroyed. In his view he had done only what was required to protect his command.[57] Grant possibly believed that his statement settled the issue for all time.

Nevertheless, debate on the campaign continued and for seemingly ample reasons. Grant concluded that he saved Oglesby’s three thousand men from a major disaster by striking Belmont. Logically, since the two Federal commands were almost equal in strength, the danger of capture or annihilation was as real for Grant as it was for his subordinate. Moreover, Polk never sent any troops to threaten Oglesby, for Confederate orders or correspondence mentioned no such movement. Rather than making an effort to check the validity of Wallace’s report, Grant chose to accept the information at face value and ordered the attack. Any supposed danger to Oglesby’s column may have been just a pretext, a convenient one to be sure, to initiate a battle.

It will be recalled that Grant wanted to move against Columbus soon after taking command at Cairo. Despite the refusal of headquarters to permit any attack, he never lost interest in taking the offensive. Perhaps in the demonstrations that were ordered he saw the opportunity for that desired fight. His dispatch to Smith of November 5 suggested that he planned something more aggressive than the mere feints desired by headquarters. Also there was the message he sent to Oglesby that day before the battle telling the latter to communicate with him at Belmont. Moreover while Grant persistently disclaimed any intention of attacking Belmont prior to 2:00 a.m. on November 7, he also described his troops’ elation at the prospect of getting to fight after they started down the Mississippi. He wrote later that if he had not done something to satisfy their demands for action he would have lost their confidence and the ability to maintain discipline.[58] In light of the above, any report of a potential threat from Belmont was probably welcomed.

Grant’s generalship at Belmont dramatized his inexperience in leading an army into battle. His decision to strike a position in such close proximity to the large Columbus garrison was inherently dangerous, especially so with untried troops. In addition, he knew little of the tactical situation around Belmont. Grant moved down the river without knowing where he was going to land or much about the terrain where he would have to fight the battle.[59] The need for a large and reliable reserve force became obvious once the hasty retreat from the camp commenced. Fortunately, for the Federals, Grant’s tactical errors were minimized by Pillow’s rash decision to deploy his troops in an open field and attack instead of taking advantage of the defenses surrounding the camp at Belmont. Tactically, Grant’s battle plan had risked much, and under slightly different circumstances a Federal disaster was always a distinct possibility.

Belmont did not result in any strategic advantage despite Grant’s assertions to the contrary. As previously demonstrated, Grant’s claim that he saved Oglesby and prevented Confederate troops from moving to assist Price had no basis in fact. In reality the strategic balance in the area remained the same. Grant returned to Cairo to await another opportunity. Down river the rebels still occupied Columbus and Belmont, and the Confederate defensive line in the Mississippi Valley stood unbroken.

Grant’s mistakes at Belmont were manifest. A neophyte general had led raw troops into an unnecessary battle and after inflicting damage on the enemy had barely escaped destruction. Certainly Grant’s reputation as a great commander could never stand on his accomplishments at Belmont.

The record indicates, however, that Grant profited from his experience at Belmont, and even in that unfortunate battle he gave evidence of the qualities that would propel him into the front rank of Union generals. Unlike many of his contemporaries Grant displayed the willingness to fight that Lincoln expected of his commanders. Faced with a fluid military situation and changing orders, Grant used his available forces without badgering headquarters for more men and attacked. He led his army to victory initially, and when the tide of battle turned he retired fighting. In his first action Grant seemed to follow what he later claimed was the secret to the art of war, “Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike at him hard as you can, and keep moving on.”[60]

Membership in the State Historical Society of Missouri, publisher of the
Missouri Historical Review for almost 100 years, is an inexpensive and
effective way to support the preservation of Missouri’s Civil War heritage.

State Historical Society of Missouri

From a purely military standpoint, Belmont might well be forgotten. It ranks as one of many minor engagements that were of little significance in deciding the final outcome of the Civil War. But as a starting point for studying the development of the military leadership of Grant the battle serves a useful purpose. For at Belmont, Ulysses S. Grant first demonstrated the qualities of aggressiveness, initiative and determination that characterized the man who eventually won the campaigns that saved the Union.
Notes:


[1] W. E. Woodward, Meet General Grant (n. p., 1928), 495

[2] Ulysses S. Grant, The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant (New York, 1885) I, 281.

[3] New York Times, November 14, 1861; J. Cutler Andrews, The North Reports the Civil War (Pittsburgh, 1955), 119.

[4] Isabel Wallace, Life and Letters of W. H. L. Wallace (Chicago, 1909), 141

[5] John Fiske, The Mississippi Valley in the Civil War (Cambridge, 1900), 50.

[6] John Simon, ed, The Papers of U. S. Grant (Carbondale, Ill., 1969), II, 163, 214.

[7] Robert J. Johnson and Clarence C. Buel, eds., Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (New York, 1956), I, 280

[8] Simon, Papers, II, 214

[9] U. S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, 1880-1901), Series I, IV, 179. (Hereafter cited as O. R.; all citations are to Series I.)

[10] Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 348.

[11] Jay Monaghan, Swamp Fox of the Confederacy: The Life and Military Services of M. Jeff Thompson (Tuscaloosa, 1956), 32; Grant, Memoirs, I, 261-263.

[12] Simon, Papers, II, 198; O. R., III, 493.

[13] Simon, Papers, II, 225, 242, 288

[14] Kenneth P. Williams, Lincoln Finds a General (New York, 1952), III, 75.

[15] Ibid., III, 64-65.

[16] O. R., III, 267.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid., 268.

[19] Ibid., 256, 259, 268.

[20] Ibid., 268-269.

[21] Ibid., III, 260, 724-728, IV, 491.

[22] Ibid., III, 273.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Grant, Memoirs, I, 270-271.

[25] Ibid., 271-272; O. R., III, 269-270.

[26] O. R., III, 294; Williams, Lincoln, III, 94.

[27] Grant, Memoirs, I, 273.

[28] Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 348-349.

[29] O.R., III, 355.

[30] Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 354-355.

[31] Ibid.

[32] O. R., III, 278, 292.

[33] Grant, Memoirs, I, 269, 273; Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 355.

[34] O. R., III, 278; Henry I. Kurtz, “The Battle of Belmont,” Civil War Times Illustrated, II (June, 1963), 20.

[35] O. R., III, 340-341, 355.

[36] Ibid., 278-279

[37] Patricia Bell, “Gideon Pillow—A Personality Profile,” Civil War Times Illustrated, VI (October, 1967), 15.

[38] O. R., III, 355-358.

[39] M. F. Force, From Fort Henry to Corinth (New York, 1963), 20-21

[40] O. R., III, 325, 356-358; Grant, Memoirs, I, 273-274

[41] O. R., III, 280, 284.

[42] Grant, Memoirs, I, 274-276; Bruce Catton, Grant Moves South (Boston, 1960), 76-77

[43] O. R., III, 280-281.

[44] Grant, Memoirs, I, 276; Kurtz, “Belmont,” 21.

[45] William G. Stevenson, Thirteen Months in the Rebel Army (New York, 1959), 54-56.

[46] Harper’s Weekly, December 7, 1861.

[47] Grant, Memoirs, I, 276.

[48] Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 353.

[49] O. R., III, 270.

[50] Grant, Memoirs, I, 280.

[51] Ibid.; O. R., III, 281.

[52] O. R., III, 269-272.

[53] Ibid., 310-312.

[54] New York Times, November 17, 1861

[55] Johnson and Buel, Battles and Leaders, I, 356.

[56] O. R., III, 256-257; Harvey L. Carter and Norma L. Peterson, eds., “William S. Stewart Letters, January 13, 1861 to December 4, 1862,” Part II, Missouri Historical Review, LXI (April, 1967), 309-310.

[57] Grant, Memoirs, I, 281.

[58] Ibid., 271.

[59] Williams, Lincoln, III, 94.

[60] As quoted in David Donald, Lincoln Reconsidered, Essays on the Civil War Era (New York, 1961), 102.

Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds

The Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds:

Confederate Victory Against the Odds

by

©2003 Kirby Ross

with an Introduction by James E. McGhee, ©2003

The Fight at Jackson Fairgrounds: Confederate Victory Against the Odds

© Kirby Ross

Author’s Note & Introduction
Ch 1 – Lindsay Murdoch Ch 6 – Playing a Squally Game of Marbles
Ch 2 – Chasing Phantoms Ch 7 – Aftermath
Ch 3 – Closing In Ch 8 – Mopping Up
Ch 4 – Hell Breaks Loose Epilogue
Ch 5 – To the Death Bibliography
Return to Civil War St. Louis



AUTHOR’S NOTE

In the course of researching the Federal Missouri State Militia and its counter-insurgency operations in Missouri, I ran across the obscure story of the Skirmish at Jackson, Missouri.  The event itself was not unusual for the state—as Missouri historian and writer James E. McGhee mentions in his Introduction that follows this note, over 1000 military engagements took place there during the Civil War.  What is unusual, and even remarkable, is the level of documentation that exists concerning the Jackson affair.  It did not take long for me to see that this was a story waiting to be told—a story that might just be one of the most detailed accounts of a small-unit action existing in regard to the Trans-Mississippi Theater.  So detailed, in fact, that it has even been possible to deduce who killed whom in the fighting.

Despite the fact the number of soldiers that participated in the Jackson Skirmish barely totaled 90 men, no fewer than eight first-person eyewitness accounts relating to it have surfaced—most of which have been gathered through the work of Jim McGhee.  Where one personal anecdote would fade off and leave the reader wondering what happened next or what happened on other parts of the far-flung field of battle, lo and behold, another version would surface, until finally a very comprehensive, all-encompassing picture emerged.  While my efforts in weaving each account into a seamless, cogent, single story was at time quite trying and entailed more than a few rewrites, I believe the final result that is embodied in the story that follows is an accurate depiction of what transpired in and around Jackson, Missouri, on the first days of April in 1862.

Kirby Ross

INTRODUCTION

The True Life Wild West Memoir of a Bush-Popping Cow Waddy

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available for pre-order at Amazon.com

Also by this author:

James O. Broadhead: Ardent Unionist, Unrepentant Slaveholder by Kirby Ross

Missouri was the scene of over 1,000 engagements during the American civil war, ranking it third behind only Virginia and Tennessee in the number of military encounters that occurred within its boundaries between 1861-1865.  Some of the Missouri battles were large affairs that decided important strategic issues, involved sizeable numbers of troops, and resulted in great loss of life.  The bloody combats at Belmont, Lexington, Pilot Knob, Wilson’s Creek, and Westport fall into that category.  Much of the warfare in the state, however, consisted of little fights between small groups of men simply intent on killing one another.  The skirmish at Jackson in April 1862 is a classic example of the type of fighting that most often happened in Missouri during four years of internecine warfare.

The engagement at Jackson, sometimes referred to as the “Battle at the Fair-Grounds,” was a chance encounter between a small group of Confederate recruits and a Union militia detachment from Cape Girardeau determined on driving them from the area.  Barely mentioned in the official records of the war, it has been nearly forgotten, even by the people of Jackson.  But the skirmish at the fairgrounds was important to local residents in 1862 for at least two reasons.  First, the fight brought home the dreadful reality that war was not necessarily something that occurred elsewhere; the townspeople actually heard the exchange of fire between the contending parties and later viewed the blood and pain of wounded soldiers first hand.  Secondly, the men who fought that day, especially on the Confederate side, were “their” boys, members of the local community that were suddenly seen in the unfamiliar role of soldiers.  Doubtless the war never seemed quite the same to Jackson residents after seeing it so close to home.

After the fight at Jackson the Union troops of the Missouri State Militia that were involved returned to Cape Girardeau.  Their unit would undergo several reorganizations over the succeeding months and spend the remainder of the war fighting local guerrillas and Confederate raiders that occasionally penetrated Missouri.

The center of attraction at the Jackson fight—the small contingent of Confederate recruits commanded by William L. Jeffers—formally organized a company on April 16, merely a few days after leaving Jackson.  It had Jeffers as captain; William E. “Button” McGuire, as first lieutenant; Richard J. Medley, as second lieutenant; and John A. Bennett, as third lieutenant—all of whom figure somewhat prominently in the following story by Kirby Ross.  Operating initially as an independent company, their unit was driven from the state into northeast Arkansas in May.  It eventually was attached to Lieutenant Colonel Charles Matlock’s Arkansas Cavalry Battalion on June 16.  When Matlock’s troopers were dismounted in July, Captain Jeffers resigned his commission.  He returned to southeast Missouri to recruit again, and was soon followed by Lieutenant McGuire and other members of his company.

Jeffers’ recruiting efforts were very successful, aided no doubt by a Federal order commanding all men to enroll in the Missouri (Union) militia.  Unwilling to fight against the South, men flocked to Jeffers’ standard in sufficient numbers to create the 8th Missouri Calvary Regiment.  The balance of the war saw the 8th raiding Missouri with Generals Johns S. Marmaduke and Sterling Price, and vainly contesting the Federals for control of Arkansas.  Throughout, Colonel Jeffers led his men from the front rank during its combat history.  As Luther Jenkins would recall, with Jeffers in command “It was never ‘Go on,’ but ‘Come on, boys.’”  The regiment finally surrendered, with the men receiving their paroles at Shreveport, Louisiana, in June 1865.

Years after the war, when Colonel Jeffers died, survivors of his regiment initiated a campaign to erect a monument in his honor at Jackson.  Although the process was slow, the monument was finally dedicated at the Jackson Homecoming celebration of 1908.  It stands today at the south end of High Street at the entrance to the Old City Cemetery near Jeffers’ final resting place.  In the northwest part of the cemetery is a stone that marks the burial place of William E. McGuire, Jeffers’ lieutenant.  It makes no mention of his Confederate service, or of the fact that he died shortly after being released from the hell that was the military prison at Alton, Illinois.  Remembered on the opposite side of the same stone is John W. McGuire, William’s son, who fell while charging a Federal line at Glasgow, Missouri, on October 16, 1864.  Other troopers of Jeffers’ little recruit command are buried nearby.  And to the southwest, only a short distance away, is the Russell Heights Cemetery, once the fairgrounds, where Jeffers’ squad boldly won their spurs in combat and then rode away into history.

Kirby Ross has rescued the fight at Jackson in 1862 from historical obscurity.  He has diligently researched the official records, various memoirs, muster rolls, and newspapers in a whole-hearted effort to reconstruct the events of the engagement as accurately as possible.  It must be said that he has accomplished his goal in admirable fashion.  The men and events come alive in a fast paced and well written narrative that places the event in its proper historical context.  It is a fine, well balanced battle account, and a fitting tribute to the men in blue and gray that fought at Jackson on a quiet spring day in 1862—for cause, honor and survival during some of the dark days in the history of our great republic.

James E. McGhee

Missouri Militia GO 3

MISSOURI MILITIA (G.O. #3)

County Origins of Specified Units

by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

James O. Broadhead: Ardent Unionist, Unrepentant Slaveholder by Kirby Ross

Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand
by Kirby Ross, Samuel S. Hildebrand, James W. Evans, A. Wendell Keith

available at Amazon.com

The True Life Wild West Memoir of a Bush-Popping Cow Waddy

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at Amazon.com

On January 30, 1865, Governor Thomas Fletcher had an order issued providing for the creation of the Missouri Militia.  This organization was made up of independent companies that were referred to by county designation as opposed to numerical designation.  Its troops were provisioned by the Federal government and paid, at least in part, by imposing a fee upon “disloyal” citizens residing within the individual counties in question.  Sixty-one companies were formed, fifty-five of which are identified in the chart below.
See also: Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4.Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

6. Provisional Enrolled Militia (G.O. #107) 1864-1865

7. Missouri Militia (G.O. #3) 1865

8. Missouri Militia (State Convention) 1865-late 19th century

Unit Commanding Officer Troop Strength Comments
Audrain County M.M. John J. Mitchell (1Lt.) 57
Bates County M.M. John Atkinson (1Lt.) 44
Bates & Henry County M.M. William Weaver (Capt.) 97
Benton County M.M. John Cosgrove (1st Lt.) 61
Bollinger County M.M. John R. Cochran (Capt.) 91
Boone County M.M. Henry N. Cook (Capt.) 95
Caldwell & Ray County M.M. Clayton Tiffin (Capt.) 86
Callaway County M.M. Wm. H. Thomas (1st Lt.) 56
Camden County M.M. Henry G. Bollinger (Capt.) 86
Cape Girardeau County M.M. Ezra King (Capt.) 93
Carroll & Livingston County M.M. Daniel Hoover (1Lt.) 73
Cass County M.M. Joseph Burk (1st Lt.) 58
Chariton County M.M. Peter R. Dolman (Capt.) 91 Note:  This company became Company A, 76th Missouri Militia Regiment.  Dolman was appointed colonel of that unit.  See, Missouri Militia (State Convention).
Christian County M.M. T.J. Gideon (1st Lt.) 45
Clay & Clinton County M.M. John W. Younger (Capt.) 84
Cooper County M.M. George Miller (Capt.) 80
Cooper & Moniteau County M.M. John B. Calhoun (Capt.) 82
Crawford County M.M. N.G. Clark (Capt.) 80
Dent County M.M. G.A. Kenamore (Capt.) 101
Douglas & Ozark County M.M. Charles K. Ford (Capt.) 90
Dunklin & Stoddard County M.M. J.C. Thomas (Capt.) 11
Howard County M.M. Warren W. Harris (Capt.) 97
Howard County M.M. William R. Forbes (Capt.) 5 Note:  Where one county had multiple independent companies, the unit would have been referred to by the name of the commanding officer.
Jackson County M.M. William S. Smith (Capt.) 84
Jasper County M.M. Lyman J. Burch (1st Lt.) 59
Johnston County M.M. Wm. E. Chester (Capt.) 93
Lafayette County M.M. R.W.P. Mooney (1st Lt.) 60
Linn County M.M. B.F. Carter (1st Lt.) 46
Livingston County M.M. A.J. Boucher (1st Lt.) 40
Macon County M.M. Robert Davis (1st Lt.) 59
Maries & Osage County M.M. James M. Dennis (Capt.) 83
Marion, Monroe & Ralls County M.M. Henry C. Gentry (1st Lt.) 60
Miller County M.M. John B. Salsman (Capt.) 88
Mississippi County M.M. John A. Rice (Capt.)
Montgomery & Warren County M.M. S.W. Hopkins (Capt.) 98
Morgan County M.M. R.P. Ruley (Capt.) 81
Newton County M.M. Samuel Achord (1st Lt.) 42
Perry County M.M. Hiram Minor (Capt.) 94
Pettis County M.M. H.C. Donnohue (Capt.) 97
Pike County M.M. William Kerr (Capt.) 82
Platte County M.M. Franklin Luthey (1st Lt.) 71
Pulaski & Texas County M.M. Richard Murphy (Capt.) 85
Randolph County M.M. Charles F. Mayo (Capt.) 87
Randolph County M.M. Alexander Denny (Capt.) 87
St. Clair County M.M. Benjamin F. Cook (Capt.) 41
St. Francois County M.M. F.A. Millert (1st Lt.)
Ste. Genevieve County M.M. David Flood (1st Lt.)
Saline County M.M. John S. Crain (Capt.) 94
Stoddard County M.M. Louis M. Ringer (1st Lt.) Note:  This company consolidated into Dunklin & Stoddard County Company (see above)
Stone County M.M. Patrick C. Berry (Capt.) 83
Taney County M.M. Wm. F. Fenex (Capt.) 95
Wright County M.M. Thomas K. Paul (Capt.) 90
Bridges North Missouri Railroad M.M. Luman W. Story (Capt.) 88
Pacific Railroad M.M. H.P. Dow (Capt.) 91
S.W. Branch Pacific Railroad M.M. Thomas Thomas (Capt.) 99

Source: Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year Ending December 31, 1865 (Jefferson City, Mo.: Emory S. Foster, Public Printer, 1866), pp. 694-699. Name spellings remain as they were in the original document.

Home Guard 1861

HOME GUARD

County Origins of Specified Units

by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

James O. Broadhead: Ardent Unionist, Unrepentant Slaveholder by Kirby Ross

Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand
by Kirby Ross, Samuel S. Hildebrand, James W. Evans, A. Wendell Keith

available at Amazon.com

The True Life Wild West Memoir of a Bush-Popping Cow Waddy

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at Amazon.com

The Missouri Home Guard was unlike the Home Guard organization in any other state.  It was controlled by the national government, as opposed to the state government, and existed only for a few months.  Closely related to (and sometimes considered a part of) the United States Reserve Corps (USRC), the Home Guard was a major component of the Federal force that bore the brunt of the fighting in Missouri in the first months of the war.

Despite the key role it played, records are sparse on the Home Guard.  One post-war Congressional report stated it consisted of 241 companies, 6 regiments, and 22 battalions, a partial listing of which appears below.  This inventory is nowhere near complete, and the names of large numbers of units that were formed seem to have been forever lost to history.  Those that have been identified seem, in large part, to be the consequence of members of the individual units having taken a small amount of time to compile a roster of the troops in their commands.

An observant reader will note a discrepancy between the number of regiments the Congressional report listed and the number named on this chart.  This appears to be the result of battalion-sized units being listed as regiments in some primary sources.

Brief notes are sometimes included below regarding the units and/or their commanding officers.  This is not to slight any other men or units that went on to do noteworthy deeds—it is merely the consequence of having had specific information very close at hand as this list was being drawn up.

See also: Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4.Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

6. Provisional Enrolled Militia (G.O. #107) 1864-1865

7. Missouri Militia (G.O. #3) 1865

8. Missouri Militia (State Convention) 1865-late 19th century

COUNTY OF ORIGIN/ COMMANDING EXISTED
NAME OF UNIT OFFICER STRENGTH (1861) CASUALTIES COMMENTS
Adair County Home Guard
Gordon’s Independent Company (Mtd.) Capt. James E. Gordon 58 May-Oct. 15 Note:  Participated in Action at Blue Mills on Sept. 17
Shibley’s Point Independent Company Capt. Jacob R. Cook 164 June-Sept.
Bolander’s Independent Company (Inf.) Capt. William H. Bolander 49 Aug.-Oct. 5
Barry County Home Guard
Stone Prairie Independent Company Capt. John Sexton 41 June-Aug
Benton County Home Guard Regiment Col. Henry Imhauser 6 companies June 13-Sept. 13 24 KIA/3 DOW Note:  Participated in the Battle of Cole Camp on June 19
Caldwell County Home Guard
Kingston Independent Company Capt. Moses L. James 57 June-Sept. 24 3 KIA Note:  Participated in Action at Blue Mills on Sept. 17
Shoal Creek Rangers Capt. James R. Murphy 80 ?
Cape Girardeau County Home Guard
Cape Girardeau Independent Battalion Maj. George H. Cramer 4 companies June-Sept.
Fremont Rangers Independent Battalion Lt. Col. Lindsay Murdock 3 companies ??-Dec. 10 8 KIA/1 DOW/2 MIA Note:  Not to be confused with two unrelated independent companies operating under the “Fremont Rangers” name in Dade and Johnson counties (see below).
Cass County Independent Company Capt. Aaron Thomas 76 July-Sept. 8 2 KIA
Christian County Home Guard See Greene County Home Guard, below
Clinton County Home Guard
Edgar’s Independent Company Capt. William A. Edgar 91 June-Sept. 16
Rogers’ Independent Company Capt. Hugh L.W. Rogers 64 June 14-Nov. 20 1 KIA
Cole County Home Guard
Jefferson City Home Guard Battalion ? ? June-Aug.
Cole County Home Guard Regiment Col. Allen P. Richardson 11 companies June-Oct. 1 2 KIA/2 DOW/2 MIA
Cooper County Home Guard
Boonville Independent Battalion Maj. Joseph A. Eppstein 3 companies June-Dec. 18 5 KIA
Dade County Home Guard
Fremont Rangers Independent Company Capt. T.A. Switzler 138 Aug-Sept. 1 Note:  Participated in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on Aug. 10
Dallas County Home Guard Battalion Col. William B. Edwards 4 companies June-Aug. 10
DeKalb County Home Guard Regiment ? ? June-Sept.
Douglas County Independent Company Capt. John S. Upshaw 77 July-Oct. 13 Note:  Absorbed into Phelps’ Volunteer Regiment on 10/13/61
Franklin County Home Guard
Pacific Railroad Home Guard Battalion Col. William C. Inks 6 companies June-Sep. 17
Franklin County Home Guard Battalion Col. James W. Owens 6 companies June-Sept. 28 3 KIA
Railroad Patrol Guard Company Captain George King 100 Sept.-Jan. 23, 1862
Gasconade County Home Guard
Matthew’s Independent Battalion Col. James A. Matthews 4 companies June-Sept. 4
Hundhausen’s Independent Battalion Lt. Col. Julius Hundhausen 5 companies ??-Oct. 1 Note:  Reorganized as Hundhausen’s Battalion U.S.R.C. (3 Years), which was subsequently absorbed into the 4th Missouri Infantry Volunteers.
Gentry County Home Guard Regiment Col. Manlove Cranor 8 companies June-Oct. 1 KIA/2 MIA Note:  Participated in Action at Blue Mills on Sept. 17
Greene County Home Guard
Greene County Independent Company Capt. Colly B. Holland 89 June-Oct. 5
Greene & Christian County Regiment Col. John S. Phelps 13 companies June-Aug. 17 4 KIA/5 MIA Note:  Detachment participated in Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10.  Colonel Phelps was a U.S. Congressman at the time of his service in the Home Guard.  After this unit was disbanded he served as commanding officer of Phelps’ Volunteer Regiment and then as military governor of Arkansas.  After the war he was elected governor of Missouri.
Harrison County Home Guard Regiment Col. Henry O. Nevill 7 companies Sept. 3-Sept. 23
Hickory County Home Guard Battalion See Osage County Home Guard, below
Iron County Home Guard
Pilot Knob Independent Company Capt. Ferdinand Schmitz 99 June-Oct. 13
Jefferson County Home Guard
DeSoto Independent Company Capt. Allen Cook 85 June-Sept. 19 1 KIA
Johnson County Home Guard
Johnson County Home Guard Regiment Col. James D. Eads 11 companies June-Sept. 1 KIA/1 DOW Note:  Participated in the Siege of Lexington Sept. 11-21.  Records are available only for field officers and one company: of the two casualties identified, one was a lieutenant colonel and the other a first lieutenant.  This indicates the possibility a significant number of casualties may have been incurred throughout the entire regiment.
Fremont Rangers Independent Company Capt. William J. Budd 99 Aug.-Dec.
Knox County Home Guard Regiment ? 7 companies July-Oct. 1 KIA Note:  Participated in the Action at Clapp’s Ford on Aug. 14
Lafayette County Home Guard
14th Missouri Home Guard Regiment Col. Robert White 8 companies July-Oct. 19 3 KIA Note:  Fought at Siege of Lexington Sept. 11-21 and was captured en masse.
Lexington Independent Company Capt. Frederick R. Neet 74 Aug. 12-Oct. 22 Note:  Fought at Siege of Lexington Sept. 11-21 and was captured en masse.
Lawrence County Home Guard Regiment Col. James C. Martin 6 companies May 25-Aug. 10 14 KIA/1 DOW
Lewis County Independent Company Capt. Robert McCollum 41 June-July 16
Linn County Home Guard
Linn County Independent Company ? 41 ??-July 16
Brookfield Independent Company Capt. Watson E. Crandall 87 June-Aug.
Livingston County Independent Company Capt. Peter Sutliff 67 June-Sept.
Maries County Independent Company Capt. William Wenzel 60 June-Aug. 26
Marion County Home Guard Battalion Maj. Josiah Hunt 3 companies June-Sept. 2 KIA/1 MIA
Moniteau County Independent Company Capt. John E. Pothoff 62 June-Aug. 16
Nodaway County Home Guard Regiment Col. Wm. J.W. Bickett 7 companies July-Oct. 20
Osage County Home Guard
Osage County Independent Battalion Maj. Chesley Glover 6 companies May 27-July 21
Osage County Regiment and Hickory   County Battalion Col. Joseph W. McClurg 17 companies June-Dec. 1 KIA/1 MIA Note:  Colonel McClurg was elected governor of Missouri after the war.
Ozark County Home Guard
Martindale’s Independent Company Capt. W.F. Martindale June-Oct. 13 2 KIA/3 DOW
Stone’s Independent Company Capt. B.S. Stone June-Oct. 18
Pettis County Independent Company Capt. John P. Thatcher 92 June-Aug. 15
Phelps County Home Guard
Bennight’s Independent Company Capt. John W. Bennight 63 July-Sept. 20 4 KIA Note:   Available records indicate large number of casualties incurred at Bennight’s Mill against Col. Freeman on Sept. 1
Pike County Home Guard Regiment Col. George W. Anderson 8 companies May-Sept. 3 Note:  Anderson’s father and two brothers served in the Confederate Army, with his father being killed in action in December 1861.  After the Pike Home Guard was disbanded,  Anderson served as colonel in the 49th Enrolled Missouri Militia and 1st Battalion Enrolled Missouri Militia.  He was elected to the United States Congress as a Radical in 1864.
Polk County Home Guard
15th Regiment USRC Home Guard Col. James W. Johnson 4 companies June-Dec. 6 1 KIA Note:  Detachment fought at Siege of Lexington Sept. 11-21 and was captured en masse.
Putnam County Home Guard
Collins’ Independent Company Capt. Sylvester S. Collins 58 May-Aug. 1
Shawneetown Independent Company Capt. James Ewing 84 July-Sept. 1
Bogle’s Independent Company Capt. William H. Bogle 59 Aug.-Oct. 13
St. Charles County Home Guard Regiment Col. Arnold Krekel 12 companies July-Aug.
St. Louis County Home Guard
Carondelet Independent Company Capt. Henry Nagel 127 June-Oct. 17
Scott County Home Guard Battalion Maj. Daniel Abbey 4 companies May-Aug. 5
Shelby County Independent Company Capt. Joseph H. Forman 70 July 23-Aug. 23
Stone County Home Guard Regiment Col. Asa G. Smith 6 companies June 5-July 19 8 KIA
Sullivan County Home Guard
Cooper’s Independent Company Capt. James W. Cooper 63 June-Sept. 20
Meals’ Independent Company Capt. William S. Meals 72 June-Sept. 20
Washington County Home Guard
Potosi Independent Company Capt. George R. French 75 July-Sept. 9 1 DOW Note:  Participated in Action at Potosi on Aug. 10
Webster County Home Guard Regiment Col. Noah H. Hampton 7 companies July-Aug. 18

Sources: Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Missouri for the Year 1863 (St. Louis, Mo., 1864), pp. 95-133;

Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year Ending December 31, 1865 (Jefferson City, Mo., 1866), pp. 28-30, 36-39;

Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion (Des Moines, 1908), pp. 1341-1343. See also,

Organization and Status of Missouri Troops in Service During the Civil War (Washington: Government Printing Office 1902)

Missouri Militia State Convention

MISSOURI MILITIA

(STATE CONVENTION)

County Origins of Specified Units

by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

James O. Broadhead: Ardent Unionist, Unrepentant Slaveholder by Kirby Ross

Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand
by Kirby Ross, Samuel S. Hildebrand, James W. Evans, A. Wendell Keith

available at Amazon.com

The True Life Wild West Memoir of a Bush-Popping Cow Waddy

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at Amazon.com

On April 8, 1865, a second organization called the Missouri Militia was created, this one by the State Convention.  Eighty-four regiments, six battalions, and two independent companies were formed, all of which have been identified and are listed on the chart below.
See also: Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4.Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

6. Provisional Enrolled Militia (G.O. #107) 1864-1865

7. Missouri Militia (G.O. #3) 1865

8. Missouri Militia (State Convention) 1865-late 19th century

UNIT COUNTY OF ORIGIN COLONEL COMMENTS
1st Regiment M.M. Ray County A.J. Bair
2nd Regiment M.M. Buchanan County Wm. R. Penick
3rd Regiment M.M. Buchanan County Cyrus J. Missemer
4th Regiment M.M Buchanan County Joseph Thompson (Maj.)
5th Regiment M.M. Osage & Maries Counties James M. Dennis
6th Regiment M.M. Jackson & Cass Counties H.H. Williams
8th Regiment M.M. Franklin County Daniel Q. Gale
9th Regiment M.M. Moniteau County F.W. Hickox
10th Regiment M.M. Cooper County Andrew P. McKee
11th Regiment M.M. Cooper County John Fessler
12th Regiment M.M. Greene County Hosea G. Mullings
13th Regiment M.M. Greene County Jacob Hursh
14th Regiment M.M. Livingston County Robert S. Moore
15th Regiment M.M. Jefferson County Anton Yerger
16th Regiment M.M. Audrain County Winfield S. Wood
William E. Jones
17th Regiment M.M. Polk & Cedar Counties James J. Akard
18th Regiment M.M. Dallas & Laclede Counties Milton Burch
19th Regiment M.M. Webster, Douglas, Wright, Texas, Ozark, & Howell Counties John S. Coleman
20th Regiment M.M. Lawrence, Newton, McDonald, & Barry Counties John M. Filler
21st Regiment M.M. Nodaway County Josiah Coleman
22nd Regiment M.M. Clay County James M. Jones
23rd Regiment M.M. Mississippi County ———
24th Regiment M.M. Iron County William T. Leeper Note:  Leeper, a prominent Missouri State Militia captain during the war as well as Radical Unionist candidate for Congress in 1864, was commonly referred to as “Colonel Leeper” in the post-war period.  He was quite controversial and has in modern times been the target of revisionist historical writings in southeast Missouri that assert he lied about being a colonel.  However his appointment at that rank and as senior commanding officer of the 24th Missouri Militia Regiment on 23 June 1865 is easily verified through the 1865 Missouri Adjutant General’s Report as well as through personal and regimental records at the Missouri State Archives.
25th Regiment M.M. Cole County Herman L. Bruns
26th Regiment M.M. Miller & Camden Counties T.J. Babcoke
27th Regiment M.M. Knox County Jacob Pugh
28th Regiment M.M. Adair County J.B. Dodson
29th Regiment M.M. Linn County Marion Cave
30th Regiment M.M. Andrew County William P. Hobson
31st Regiment M.M. Grundy County Henry V. Stall
32nd Regiment M.M. Holt County Geo. W. Kelly (Lt. Col.)
33rd Regiment M.M. Atchison County George Steck (Lt. Col.)
34th Regiment M.M. Gentry County C.G. Comstock (Lt. Col.)
35th Regiment M.M. Mercer County David M. King
36th Regiment M.M. Carroll County Daniel Hoover (Lt. Col.)
37th Regiment M.M. Putnam County James B. Harper
38th Regiment M.M. Clinton County H.L. Rogers
39th Regiment M.M. Cape Girardeau County Geo. F. Thilenues
40th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City N. Schittner
41st Regiment M.M. St. Louis City Christian Ploeser
42nd Regiment M.M. St. Louis City Ezra O. English
43rd Regiment M.M. St. Louis City T. Niederweiser
44th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City James Blood
45th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City John McFall
46th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City Henry Hildebrand
47th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City E.C. Harrington
48th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City Phil H. Murphy
49th Regiment M.M. St. Louis City Wm. D. Bowen
50th Regiment M.M. Pacific Railroad Joseph B. Wilde (Lt. Col.)
51st Regiment M.M. St. Louis County R.C. Allen
52nd Regiment M.M. Colored, St. Louis Frank Robinson
53rd Regiment M.M. Macon County Dennis C. McKay
54th Regiment M.M. DeKalb County Levi Pritchard (Lt. Col.)
55th Regiment M.M. Gasconade County W.Q. Dallmeyer
56th Regiment M.M. Harrison County John W. Moore
57th Regiment M.M. Boone County Thomas J. Sutton (Lt. Col.)
58th Regiment M.M. Lafayette County James C. McGinnis
59th Regiment M.M. Clark County John H. Cox (Lt. Col.)
60th Regiment M.M. Platte County Wm. J. Fitzgerald
61st Regiment M.M. Pike County Robert McElroy
Pat. F. Lonergan
62nd Regiment M.M. Randolph County A.F. Denny
63rd Regiment M.M. St. Charles County Fred. Weineben
64th Regiment M.M. Lincoln County A.C. Marsh
65th Regiment M.M. Marion County J.T.K. Hayward
66th Regiment M.M. Lewis County Robert Carrick
67th Regiment M.M. Scotland & Schuyler Counties E.A. Kutzner
68th Regiment M.M. Shelby County George Lair (Lt. Col.)
69th Regiment M.M. Ralls County John A. Lennon
70th Regiment M.M. Crawford & Phelps Counties A.A. Harrison
71st Regiment M.M. Monroe County E.G.B. McNutt
72nd Regiment M.M. Daviess County Joseph H. McGee
73rd Regiment M.M. Montgomery County L.A. Thompson
74th Regiment M.M. Benton County Richard H. Melton
75th Regiment M.M. Callaway County J.J.P. Johnson
76th Regiment M.M. Chariton County Peter R. Dolman
77th Regiment M.M. Johnson County ———
78th Regiment M.M. Morgan County ———
79th Regiment M.M. Sullivan County Asahael Jones (Lt. Col.)
80th Regiment M.M. Saline County Benj. H. Wilson
81st Regiment M.M. St. Louis H.F. Vohlkamp
82nd Regiment M.M. St. Louis Francis Romer
83rd Regiment M.M. Bollinger County ———
84th Regiment M.M. Perry County Thomas Hooss (Adj.)
National Guard Regiment St. Louis H. Kleinschmidt
INDEPENDENT BATTALIONS
1st Battalion M.M. Christian, Stone, & Taney Counties S.C. McCullah (Maj.)
2nd Battalion M.M. Dade, Jasper, & Barton Counties James M. Smith (Maj.)
3rd Battalion M.M. St. Louis William A. Steele (Maj.)
5th Battalion M.M. Caldwell County John G. Pierce (Adj.)
6th Battalion M.M. Worth County Adam Wall (Maj.)
Benton Barracks Battalion St. Louis John W. McHarg (Maj.)
INDEPENDENT COMPANIES
Fletcher Guards Middletown, Montgomery County S.W. Hammack (Capt.)
Clark County Ind. Co. Clark County D.A. Day (Capt.)

Source: Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year Ending December 31, 1865. (Jefferson City, Mo.: Emory S. Foster, Public Printer, 1866), pp. 635-685. Spellings of names in the above chart remain unchanged from the original document.

Provisional Enrolled Militia

PROVISIONAL ENROLLED MILITIA

County Origins of Specified Units

by Kirby Ross

Also by this author:

James O. Broadhead: Ardent Unionist, Unrepentant Slaveholder by Kirby Ross

Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand
by Kirby Ross, Samuel S. Hildebrand, James W. Evans, A. Wendell Keith

available at Amazon.com

The True Life Wild West Memoir of a Bush-Popping Cow Waddy

By Charley Hester, Edited by Kirby Ross

available at Amazon.com

Few if any of the many types of militia that existed in Missouri are as misunderstood and mis-categorized as this organization.  The Provisional Enrolled Militia was formed in mid-1864 and was made up of 62 independent companies (56 of which are identified below).  Because of its name, the Provisional Enrolled Militia is often confused as being a part of the Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia, but there was absolutely no connection between the two.

The Provisional Companies were formed by county committees that handpicked the men that joined the ranks.  As they were formed, the primary duty of these units was to maintain law and order in their localities.

See also: Federal Militia in Missouri by Kirby Ross

1. Home Guard 1861

2. Six-Month Militia 1861

3. Missouri State Militia 1861-1865

4.Enrolled Missouri Militia 1862-1865

5. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia 1863-1865

6. Provisional Enrolled Militia (G.O. #107) 1864-1865

7. Missouri Militia (G.O. #3) 1865

8. Missouri Militia (State Convention) 1865-late 19th century

COUNTY COMMANDING OFFICER DATE INTO SERVICE COMMENTS
Adair County Capt. Hiram B. Foster Aug. 1864
Andrew County Capt. John B. Majors ??
Caldwell County Capt. W.F. Tilson Sept. 1864
Camden County Capt. Henry G. Bollinger Sept. 1864
Camden County Capt. Sayles Brown ??
Carroll County Capt. Daniel Hoover Dec. 1864
Clark County Capt. D.A. Day Nov. 1864
Clay County Capt. Wm. G. Garth Aug. 1864
Cole County Capt. Andrew J. Green Sept. 1864 While serving as captain in the Cole County Provisional Enrolled Militia, Andrew Green was also serving as lieutenant colonel in the 42nd Enrolled Missouri Militia.
Cooper County Capt. H. Shoemaker Aug. 1864
Cooper County Capt. R.B. Newman ??
Crawford County Capt. W.H. Ferguson Aug. 1864
Crawford County See Phelps county
Dallas County Capt. Noah Bray Aug. 1864
DeKalb County Capt. John Pinger Aug. 1864
Franklin County Capt. Lucius C. Frazer Sept. 1864
Franklin County Capt. Andrew Fink Sept. 1864
Franklin County Capt. Frederick Steines Sept. 1864
Franklin County Capt. Elias Boyd Oct. 1864 Organized by refugees.
Franklin County Capt. B.E. Anderson Jan. 1865
Gentry County Capt. James Castor July 1864
Gentry County Capt. John F. Mason July 1864
Grundy County Capt. George A. Spickard July 1864
Grundy County Capt. E.L. Winters ??
Hickory County 1st Lt. Wm. L. McCaslen Jan. 1865
Iron County Capt. Morgan Mace ?? Also included troops from Madison County and probably from Wayne County
Laclede County Capt. D.A.W. Morehouse Sept. 1864
Lafayette County Capt. George W. Bingham ?? Also included troops from Saline County
Lincoln County Capt. Dedrick Wehde Oct. 1864
Linn County Capt. Robert W. Holland Aug. 1864 Also included troops from Macon County
Macon County Capt. Isaac P. Rallston Sept. 1864
Macon County Troops from this county also combined with men from Linn County to fill out Capt. Holland’s company (see above)
Maries County Capt. Samuel Parpam Aug. 1864
Miller County Capt. John Long Aug. 1864
Miller County Capt. Thos. J. Babcoke Jan. 1865
Moniteau County Capt. A.B. Hale Sept. 1864
Moniteau County Capt. J.F. Hume Sept. 1864 While serving as captain in the Moniteau County Provisonal Enrolled Militia, J.F. Hume was also serving as major in the 43rd Enrolled Missouri Militia.
Moniteau County Capt. John R. Legg Sept. 1864
Moniteau County Capt. Henry Pwiehaus Sept. 1864
Moniteau County Capt. E.P. Renshaw Sept. 1864
Monroe County Capt. E.G.B. McNutt Dec. 1864
Monroe County Capt. Lewis P. Corrothers ?? Also included troops from Shelby County
Montgomery County Capt. John Kendrick July 1864
Morgan County Capt. A.J. Hart ??
Osage County Capt. Adam Miller Aug. 1864 While serving as captain in the Osage County Provisonal Enrolled Militia, Adam Miller was also serving as lieutenant colonel in the 28th Enrolled Missouri Militia.
Phelps County (?) Capt. Abraham Johnson ?? The specific county this company originated in is uncertain.  Capt. Johnson’s Provisonal Enrolled Militia Company was detailed from the 63rd Enrolled Missouri Militia, which consisted of men from Phelps, Crawford and Pulaski counties. Johnson’s PEM company came from one of those counties, or a combination of them.
Platte County Capt. Edward Schelsky Aug. 1864
Pulaski County See Phelps county
Ralls County Capt. John F. McNeil Oct. 1864
Ralls County Capt. John A. Lennon Nov. 1864
Randolph County Capt. Charles F. Mayo Sept. 1864
Ray County Capt. Martin T. Real ??
St. Charles County Capt. F.W. Gatzweller Sept. 1864
Saline County See Lafayette county
Shelby County See Monroe County
Scotland County Capt. John l. Morris ??
Stone County Capt. George E. Gaddy Sept. 1864
Sullivan County Capt. Henry D. Johnson ??
Washington County Capt. J.A.G. Palmer Aug. 1864
Washington County Capt. A.J. Harris Sept. 1864
Washington County Capt. John A. Harris ??
Source:  Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year Ending December 31, 1865 (Jefferson City, Mo.: Emory S. Foster, Public Printer, 1866), pp. 629-632

First Missouri Confederate Brigade

Counties of Origin

First Missouri Confederate Brigade

By James E. McGhee, ©2004

James E. McGhee is a retired lawyer with an avid interest in the Missouri State Guard and Missouri Confederate units. His latest book is Missouri Confederates: A Guide to Sources for Confederate Soldiers and Units, 1861-1865 (Independence, Mo.: Two Trails Publishing, 2001). McGhee’s titles are available from Camp Pope Bookshop.

Following are the counties of origin of the various companies of the First Missouri Confederate Brigade.  The counties in bold face print contributed the greatest number of soldiers to a company. Not all counties that contributed soldiers to a particular company are shown, however, as some companies included men from as many as fifteen or more counties.  Therefore, a county is included only if it provided at least three soldiers to a company.  The artillery units attached to the brigade are not included as the make-up of the batteries was so mixed as to make any attempt at showing a county of origin meaningless.



1st Infantry Regiment:

Co A – New Orleans, La., St. Louis

Co B – St. Louis

Co C – Memphis, Tn., St. Louis

Co D – New Madrid, Pemiscot, St. Louis

Co E – Memphis, Tn., Mississippi, New Madrid, St. Louis

Co F – New Madrid, St. Louis

Co G – New Madrid, Pemiscot, St. Louis

Co H – New Madrid, Pemiscot

Co I –   New Madrid

Co K – Cape Girardeau, New Madrid, Pemiscot

2nd Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Marion, Pike, Ralls, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Louis

Co B – Howard, Lincoln, Montgomery, Pike

Co C – Lincoln, Montgomery, St. Charles, Warren

Co D – Cole, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan

Co E – Andrew, Atchison, Cedar, Howard, Nodaway, Pettis

Co F – Jefferson, Laclede, Lincoln, Marion, Pike, Ralls, St. Charles, St. Louis, Vernon

Co G – Audrain, Boone, Monroe, Shelby, Ralls

Co H – Johnson, St. Louis, Texas [state]

Co I –   Boone, Callaway

Co K – Chariton, Howard, Linn, Sullivan

3rd Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Caldwell, Ray

Co B – Gentry, Harrison, Ray, Worth

Co C – Carroll, Ray

Co D – Barry, Clay, Livingston, Platte, Ray

Co E – Clay, Daviess, DeKalb, Platte

Co F – Boone, Daviess, Chariton, Clay, Howard, Livingston, Randolph, Ray

Co G – Buchanan, Clay, Jackson

Co H – Carroll, Daviess, Grundy, Livingston, Platte

Co I –   Caldwell, Clay, Clinton, Ray, Saline

Co K – Chariton, Lafayette, Macon, Randolph, Shelby

4th Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Taney

Co B – Howell, Polk

Co C – Ozark, Arkansas [state]

Co D – Oregon, Shannon

Co E – Henry, Laclede, St. Clair

Co F – Benton, Christian, Greene, St. Clair

Co G – Arkansas [state], Dallas, Dent, Greene

Co H – Bates, Cass, Henry, Johnson

Co I –   Arkansas [state], Oregon, Shannon

Co K – Clark, Marion, Monroe, Lewis

5th Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Johnson, Newton

Co B – Adair, Grundy, Howard, Macon

Co C – Polk

Co D – Polk

Co E – Gasconade, Franklin, Osage, St. Clair

Co F – Linn, Macon, Moniteau, St. Louis, Saline

Co G – Cooper, Henry, Pettis

Co H – Cass, Johnson, Lewis, Marion

Co I –  Macon, Johnson, Linn, Randolph

Co K – Dunklin, Stoddard

6th Infantry Regiment:

Co A – Cass, Jackson, Kansas [state]

Co B – Cass, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Saline

Co C – Audrain, Boone, Howard

Co D – Arkansas [state], Cape Girardeau, Mississippi, New Madrid, Scott, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stoddard, Washington

Co E – Jackson, Johnson

Co F – Cass, Hickory, Jackson, Johnson, St. Clair

Co G – Kansas [state], Platte

Co H – Chariton, Howard, Macon

Co I –   Dunklin, Cape Girardeau, Mississippi, Perry, Scott, Ste. Genevieve, Stoddard

Co K – Arkansas [state], Cape Girardeau, Madison, New Madrid, Ripley, St. Louis, Wayne

1st Cavalry Regiment (Dismounted):

Co A – Andrew, Buchanan, Clinton, Holt, Marion, Lafayette, Nodaway, Platte

Co B – Callaway, Cole, Montgomery, Ray

Co C – Andrew, Grundy, Holt, Platte

Co D – Ray

Co E – Andrew, Buchanan, Clay, Platte

Co F – Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Holt, Ray

Co G – Daviess, Gentry, Harrison, Worth

Co H – Andrew, Gentry, Nodaway, Worth

Co I –   Clay, Jackson, Platte, Ray

Co K – Audrain, Boone, Buchanan, Callaway, Montgomery, Phelps, Platte

3rd Cavalry Battalion (Dismounted):

Co A – Cole, Moniteau, Pulaski

Co B – Clay, Nodaway, Polk, Worth

Co C – Greene, Lawrence

Co D – Andrew, Clay, DeKalb, Platte

Co E – Greene, Laclede, Miller, Pulaski

Co F – Cass, Greene, Laclede, Webster

Co G – [Exchanged prisoners, very mixed. Also, few records denote residence.]

Co H – [Exchanged prisoners, very mixed].



Sources:

Service Records for the 1st – 6th Infantry Regiments, 1st Cavalry Regiment, and 3rd Cavalry Battalion.  Microfilm. Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, Missouri.

Fremont’s 100 Days in Missouri – Part 3

Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri

Atlantic Monthly, Jan-Mar, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

The unnamed author of Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri was a member of the general’s staff. Clearly not a native of Missouri, this Union officer often displayed a definite bias against Missourians; no doubt fueled by reading years of “Border Ruffian” stories in eastern newspapers. He observes of the people of Jefferson City, cited by most historians as the second most pro-Union population in Missouri behind only St. Louis, that “Such vacant, listless faces, with laziness written in every line, and ignorance seated upon every feature! Is it for these that the descendants of New England and the thrifty Germans are going forth to battle? If Missouri depended upon the Missourians, there would be little chance for her safety, and, indeed, not very much to save.”  Later he observes of some local farmers that “The Union men of Missouri are quite willing to have you fight for them, but their patriotism does not go farther than this.” These statements might be amusing if one didn’t know that such biases by many Union troops would lead to bitter fruit in the guerrilla war ahead.

Also, there can be no doubt of the author’s opinion of General Fremont. Fremont is depicted as nearly God-like in his attributes and skills in everything he does. To be fair, this is hardly unknown in the history of campaign journals written by junior officers. We have not hesitated to depict Fremont in much less favorable light on the site; we are pleased to have the opportunity to give one of the general’s defenders a chance to tell the story from the other side.

Regardless of the obvious biases of the author, this seems to be an important, detailed primary account by a participant of Fremont’s abortive campaign to catch General Price in the fall of 1861.  It appeared in three parts in the national magazine The Atlantic Monthly (still a going concern), Jan through March, 1862, and gained enough national attention that Frank Blair felt the need to refer to it by name, and rebut it, on the floor of the House of Representatives on March 7, 1862. Blair’s rebuttal can be found here on our site.

The author uses almost 24,000 words to cover just five weeks of campaigning, and when he isn’t lauding the general provides some very interesting details of the first large-scale campaign by a Union army west of the Mississippi (an army six times the size of the one Lyon lead at Wilson’s Creek), the general condition of affairs in Missouri, the slavery issue, and the people of Missouri. His account of the famous “Zagonyi’s Charge” at Springfield is particularly fine, and as the author claims to have been a member of the committee of inquiry following the event, may be presumed to be fairly accurate, if a bit breathless –most historians would not agree that it deserves to be compared to the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, as the author alludes to here. His personal observations of two hundred armed and mounted “contrabands” as part of Jim Lane’s Kansas brigade leads one to suspect that “contraband” is a title of convenience here; an armed and mounted man on campaign with an army is a soldier no matter what you call him. Since under the then-current regs of the Union army he could not be called a “soldier”, the author avoids that label –but “a rose by any other name”.

It is also worth noting that most historians would argue with the author’s conclusion at the end that just another forty-eight hours given to Fremont would have resulted in the climactic battle with Price that the Pathfinder sought. Albert Castel’s General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (1968), widely considered the leading history of Price’s Civil War career, asserts that Price was at Pineville, much further southwest of where Fremont thought he was on November 2, 1861.

Interestingly enough, the standard bio of the general’s life, Fremont: Pathmarker of the West, by Allan Nevins, does not appear to use this article as one of its sources. As it is very sympathetic to Fremont, a fine, detailed campaign journal of his major campaign in Missouri, and impactful enough to warrant a public rebuttal from Frank Blair, this is more than passingly strange. It is unclear if Nevins was unaware of this article or just did not find it interesting enough to use for his book.

We found this article on the excellent (and free) Making of America site of Cornell University, that includes many journals from this period besides The Atlantic Monthly. We will be publishing it in three parts, just as it appeared in the magazine.


goto Part I

goto Part II

III.

THE FORCED MARCH TO SPRINGFIELD.

Bolivar, October 26th. Zagonyi’s success has roused the enthusiasm of the army. The old stagers took it coolly, but the green hands revealed their excitement by preparing for instant battle. Pistols were oiled and reloaded, and swords sharpened. We did all this a month ago, before leaving St. Louis. We then expected a battle, and went forth with the shadow and the sunshine of that expectation upon our hearts; but up to this time we have not seen a shot fired in earnest. Now the blast of war blows in our ears, and we instinctively “stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood.”

Captain H., the young chevalier of the staff, whom we have named Le Beau Capitaine, went this morning to St. Louis with intelligence of the victory. He has ninety miles to ride before midnight, to catch to-morrow’s train.

Under the influence of the excitement which prevailed, we were on horseback this morning long before it was necessary, when the General sent us word that the staff might go forward, and he would over-take us. The gay and brilliant cavalcade which marched out of Jefferson City is destroyed, —the maimed and bleeding Guard is reposing a few miles south of Bolivar,—the detachment which was left at head-quarters has gone on to join the main body,—and the staff broken into small parties, straggles along the road. A more beautiful day never delighted the earth. The atmosphere is warm, the sky cloudless, and the distance is filled with a soft dreamy haze, which veils, but does not conceal, the purple hills and golden forests.

A few miles south of our last night’s camp we came out upon a large prairie, called the Twenty-Five Mile Prairie. It is an undulating plain, seven miles wide and twenty-five long. It was the intention to concentrate the army here. A more favorable position for reviewing and manoeuvring a large force cannot be found. But the plan has been changed. We must hasten to Springfield, lest the Rebels seize the place, capture White and our wounded, and throw a cloud over Zagonyi’s brilliant victory.

Passing from the prairie, we entered a broad belt of timber, and soon reached a fine stream. We drew rein at a farm-house on the top of the river-bank, where we found a pleasant Union family. The farmer came out, and, thinking Colonel Eaton was the General, offered him two superb apples, large enough for foot-balls. He was disappointed to find his mistake, and to be compelled to withdraw the proffered gift. Sigel encamped here last night, and the debris of his camp-fires checker the hill-side and the flats along the margin of the creek. After waiting an hour, the General not coming up, Colonel Eaton and myself set out alone over a road which was crowded with Sigel’s wagons. Everything bears witness to the extraordinary energy and efficiency of that officer. This morning he started before day, and he will be in Springfield by noon to-morrow. His train is made up of materials which would drive most generals to despair. There are mule-teams, and ox-teams, and in some cases horses, mules, and oxen hitched together. There are army-wagons, box-wagons, lumber-wagons, hay-racks, buggies, carriages, —in fact, every kind of animal and every description of vehicle which could be found in the country. Most of our division-commanders would have refused to leave camp with such a train; but Sigel has made it answer his purpose, and here he is, fifty miles in advance of any other officer, tearing after Price.

We were jogging painfully over the incumbered road, and through clouds of dust, when an officer rode up in great haste, and asked for Dr. C., who was needed at the camp of the Guards. By reason of the broken order in which the staff rode to-day, he could not be found. For two mortal hours unlucky aides-de-camp dashed to the front and the rear, and scoured the country for five miles upon the flanks, visiting the farm-houses in search of the missing surgeon. At last he was found, and hurried on to the relief of the Guard. At this moment the General came up, and, to our astonishment, Zagonyi was riding beside him, bearing upon his trim person no mark of yesterday’s fatigue and danger. The Major fell behind, and rode into Bolivar with me. On the way we met Lieutenant Maythenyi of the Guard.

Our camp is on the farm of a member of the State legislature who is now serving under Price. His white cottage and well-ordered farm-buildings are surrounded by rich meadows, bearing frequent groups of noble trees; the fences are in good condition, and the whole place wears an air of thrift and prosperity which must be foreign to Missouri even in her best estate.

Springfield, October 28th. Few of those who endured the labor of yesterday will forget the march into Springfield. At midnight of Saturday, the Sharp-shooters were sent on in wagons, and at two in the morning the Benton Cadets started, with orders to march that day to Springfield, thirty miles. Their departure broke the repose of the camp. To add to the confusion, a report was spread that the General intended to start at daybreak, and that we must have breakfast at four o’clock and be ready for the saddle at six. This programme was carried out. Long before day our servants called us; fires were lighted, and breakfast eaten by starlight. Before dawn the wagons were packed and horses saddled. But the General had no intention of going so early; the report had its origin in the uneasy brain of some officer who probably thought the General ought to leave at daybreak. Some of the old heads paid no attention to the report, or did not hear it, and they were deep in the pleasures of the morning nap while we poor fellows were shivering over our breakfast.

Colonel Wyman reported himself at Bolivar, having marched from Rolla and beaten the Rebels in three engagements. The General set out at nine o’clock for our thirty-mile ride. The black horse fell into his usual scrambling gait, and we pounded along uneasily after him. As we passed through Bolivar, the inhabitants came into the streets and greeted us with cheers and the waving of handkerchiefs, —a degree of interest which is not often exhibited. Fording a small stream, we came into Wyman’s camp, and thence upon a long, rolling prairie. An hour’s ride brought us to the place where the Guard encamped the night before. The troops had left, but the wounded officers were still in a neighboring house, waiting for our ambulances. Those who were able to walk came out to see the General. He received them with marked kindness. At times like this, he has a simple grace and poetry of expression and a tenderness of manner which are very winning. He spoke a few words to each of the brave fellows, which brought smiles to their faces and tears into their eyes. Next came our turn, and we were soon listening to the incidents of the fearful fray. None of them are severely wounded, except Kennedy, and he will probably lose an arm. We saw them all placed in the ambulances, and then fell in behind the black pacer.

A short distance farther on, a very amusing scene occurred. The road in front was nearly filled by a middle-aged woman, fat enough to have been the original of some of the pictures which are displayed over the booths at a county fair.

“Are you Gin’ral Freemount ?” she shouted, her loud voice husky with rage.

“Yes,” replied the General in a low tone, somewhat abashed at the formidable obstruction in his path, and occupied in restraining the black pacer, who was as much frightened at the huge woman as he could have been at a park of artillery.

“Waal, you ‘re the man I want to see. I ‘m a widder. I wus born in Old Kentuck, and am a Union, and allers wus a Union, and will he a Union to the eend, clear grit.”

She said this with startling earnestness and velocity of utterance, and paused, the veins in her face swollen almost to bursting. The black pacer bounded from one side of the road to the other, throwing the whole party into confusion.

The General raised his cap and asked, — “What is the matter, my good woman?”

“Matter, Gin’ral! Ther’ ‘s enough the matter. I ‘ye allers gi’n the sogers all they wanted. I gi’n ‘em turkeys and chickens and eggs and butter and bread. And I never charged ‘em anything for it. They tuk all my corn, and I never said nuthing. I allers treated ‘em well, for I ‘m Union, and so wus my man, who died more nor six yeah ago.”

She again paused, evidently for no reason except to escape a stroke of apoplexy.

“But tell me what you want now. I will see to it that you have justice,” interrupted the General.

“You see, Gin’ral, last night some sogers come and tuk my ox-chains,— two on ‘em, — all I ‘ye got, — and I can’t buy no more in these war-times. I can’t do any work without them chains; they ‘d ‘a’ better uv tuk my teams with ‘em, too.”

“How much were your ox-chains worth,” said the General, laughing.

“Waal now,” answered the fat one, moderating her tone, “they ‘re wuth a good deal jes’ now. The war has made such things dreffle deah. The big one wus the best I ever see; bought it last yeah, up at Hinman’s store in Bolivar; that chain was wuth — waal now — Ho, Jim! ho, Dick! come y’ere! Gin’ral Freemount wants to know how much them ox-chains wus wuth.”

A lazy negro and a lazier white man, the latter whittling a piece of cedar, walked slowly from the house to the road, and, leaning against the fence, began in drawling tones to discuss the value of the ox-chains, how much they cost, how much it would take to buy new ones in these times. One thought “may-be four dollars wud do,” but the other was sure they could not be bought for less than five. There was no promise of a decision, and the black pacer was floundering about in a perfect agony of fear. At last the General drew out a gold eagle and gave it to the woman, asking, —

“Is that enough?”

She took the money with a ludicrous expression of joy and astonishment at the rare sight, but exclaimed, —

“Lor’ bless me! it ‘s too much, Gin’ral! I don’t want more nor my rights. It‘s too much.”

But the General spurred by her, and we followed, leaving the “Union” shouting after us, “It‘s too much! It‘s more nor I expected!” She must have received an impression of the simplicity and promptitude of the quartermaster’s department which the experience of those who have had more to do with it will hardly sustain.

Our road was filled with teams belonging to Sigel’s train, and the dust was very oppressive. At length it became so distressing to our animals that the General permitted us to separate from him and break up into small parties. I made the rest of the journey in company with Colonel Eaton. Our road lay through the most picturesque region we had seen. The Ozark Mountains filled the southern horizon, and ranges of hills swept along our flanks. The broad prairies, covered with tall grass waving and rustling in the light breeze, were succeeded by patches of woods, through which the road passed, winding among picturesque hills covered with golden forests and inlaid with the silver of swift-running crystal streams.

As we came near the town, we saw many evidences of the rapid march Sigel had made. We passed large numbers of stragglers. Some were limping along, weary and foot-sore, others were lying by the road-side, and every farm- house was filled with exhausted men. A mile or two from Springfield we overtook the Cadets. They had marched thirty miles since morning, and had halted beside a brook to wash themselves. As we approached, Colonel Marshall dressed the ranks, the colors were flung out, the music struck up, and the Cadets marched into Springfield in as good order as if they had just left camp.

It was a gala-day in Springfield. The Stars and Stripes were flying from windows and house-tops, and ladies and children, with little flags in their hands, stood on the door-steps to welcome us. This is the prettiest town I have found in Missouri, and we can see the remains of former thrift and comfort worthy a village in the Valley of the Merrimack or Genesee. It has suffered severely from the war. From its position it is the key to Southern Missouri, and all decisive battles for the possession of that region must he fought near Springfield. This is the third Union army which has been here, and the Confederate armies have already occupied the place twice. When the Federals came, the leading Secessionists fled; and when the Rebels came, the most prominent Union men ran away. Thus by the working of events the town has lost its chief citizens, and their residences are either deserted or have been sacked. War’s dreary record is written upon the dismantled houses, the wasted gardens, the empty storehouses, and the deserted taverns. The market, which stood in the centre of the Plaza, was last night fired by a crazy old man, well known here, and previously thought to be harmless: it now stands a black ruin, a type of the desolation which broods over the once happy and prosperous town.

Near the market is a substantial brick edifice, newly built, —the county court-house. It is used as a hospital, and we were told that the dead Guardsmen were lying in the basement. Colonel Eaton and myself dismounted, and entered a long, narrow room in which lay sixteen ghastly figures in open coffins of unpainted pine, ranged along the walls. All were shot to death except one. They seemed to have died easily, and many wore smiles upon their faces. Death had come so suddenly that the color still lingered in their boyish cheeks, giving them the appearance of wax-figures. Near the door was the manly form of the sergeant of the first company, who, while on the march, rode immediately in front of the General. We all knew him well. He was a model soldier: his dress always neat, his horse well groomed, the trappings clean, and his sabre-scabbard bright. He lay as calm and placid as if asleep; and a small blue mark between his nose and left eye told the story of his death. Opposite him was a terrible spectacle, —the bruised, mangled, and distorted shape of a bright-eyed lad belonging to the Kentucky company. I had often remarked his arch, mirthful, Irish-like face; and the evening the Guard left camp he brought me a letter to send to his mother, and talked of the fun he was going to have at Springfield. His body was found seven miles from the battle-field, stripped naked. There was neither bullet nor sabre-wound upon him, but his skull bad been beaten in by a score of blows. The cowards had taken him prisoner, carried him with them in their flight, and then robbed and murdered him.

After leaving the hospital we met Major White, whom we supposed to be a prisoner. He is quite ill from the effects of exposure and anxiety. With his little band of twenty-four men he held the town, protecting and caring for the wounded, until Sigel came in yester- day noon.

Headquarters were established at the residence of Colonel Phelps, the member of Congress from this district, and our tents are now grouped in front and at the sides of the house. The wagons did not come up until midnight, and we were compelled to forage for our supper and lodging. A widow lady who lives near gave some half-dozen officers an excellent meal, and Major White and myself slept on the floor of her sitting-room.

This afternoon the Guardsmen were buried with solemn ceremony. We placed the sixteen in one huge grave. Up on a grassy hill-side, and beneath the shade of tall trees, the brave boys sleep in the soil they have hallowed by their valor.

We are so far in advance that there is some solicitude lest we may be attacked before the other divisions come up. Sigel has no more than five thousand men, and the addition of our little column makes the whole force here less than six thousand. Asboth is two days’ march behind. McKinstry is on the Pomme-de-Terre, seventy miles north, and Pope is about the same distance. Hunter —we do not know precisely where he is, but we suppose him to be south of the Osage, and that he will come by the Buffalo road: he has not reported for some time. Price is at Neosho, fifty-four miles to the southwest. Should he advance rapidly, it will need energetic marching to bring up our reinforcements. Price and McCulloch have joined, and there are rumors that Hardee has reached their camp with ten thousand men. The best information we can get places the enemy’s force at thirty thousand men and thirty-two pieces of artillery. Deserters are numerous. I have interrogated a number of them to-day, and they all say they came away because Price was retreating, and they did not wish to be taken so far from their homes. They also say that the time for which his men are enlisted expires in the middle of November, and if he does not fight, his army will dissolve.

SLAVERY.

Springfield, October 30th. Asboth brought in his division this morning, and soon after Lane came at the head of his brigade. It was a motley procession, made up of the desperate fighters of the Kansas borders and about two hundred negroes. The contrabands were mounted and armed, and rode through the streets rolling about in their saddles with their shiny faces on a broad grin.

The disposition to be made of fugitive slaves is a subject which every day presents itself. The camps and even head-quarters are filled with runaways. Several negroes came from St. Louis as servants of staff-officers, and these men have become a sort of Vigilance Committee to secure the freedom of the slaves in our neighborhood. The new-comers are employed to do the work about camp, and we find them very useful, —and they serve us with a zeal which is born of their long-baffled love of liberty. The officers of the regular army here have little sympathy with this practical Abolitionism; but it is very different with the volunteers and the rank and file of the army at large. The men do not talk much about it; it is not likely that they think very profoundly upon the social and legal questions involved; they are Abolitionists by the inexorable logic of their situation. However ignorant or thoughtless they may be, they know that they are here at the peril of their lives, facing a stern, vigilant, and relentless foe. To subdue this foe, to cripple and destroy him, is not only their duty, but the purpose to which the instinct of self-preservation concentrates all their energies. Is it to be supposed that men who, like the soldiers of the Guard, last week pursued Rebellion into the very valley and shadow of death, will be solicitous to protect the system which incited their enemies to that fearful struggle, and hurried their comrades to early graves? What laws or proclamations can control men stimulated by such memories? The stern decrees of fact prescribe the conditions upon which this war must be waged. An attempt to give back the negroes who ask our protection would demoralize the army; an order to assist in such rendition would he resented as an insult. Fortunately, no such attempt will be made. So long as General Fremont is in command of this department, no person, white or black, will be taken out of our lines into slavery. The flag we follow will be in truth what the nation has proudly called it, a symbol of freedom to all.

The other day a farmer of the neighborhood came into our quarters, seeking a runaway slave. It happened that the fugitive had been employed as a servant by Colonel Owen Lovejoy. Some one told the man to apply to the Colonel, and he entered the tent of that officer and said, — “Colonel, I am told you have got my boy Ben, who has run away from me.”

“Your boy?” exclaimed the Colonel; “I do not know that I have any boy of yours.”

“Yes, there he is,” insisted the master, pointing to a negro who was approaching. “I want you to deliver him to me: you have no right to him; he is my slave.”

“Your slave?” shouted Colonel Lovejoy, springing to his feet. “That man is my servant. By his own consent he is in my service, and I pay him for his labor, which it is his right to sell and mine to buy. Do you dare come here and claim the person of my servant? He is entitled to my protection, and shall have it. I advise you to leave this camp forthwith.”

The farmer was astounded at the cool way in which the Colonel turned the tables upon him, and set his claim to the negro, by reason of having hired him, above the one which he had as the negro’s master. He left hastily, and we afterwards learned that his brother and two eons were in the Rebel army.

As an instance of the peculiar manner in which some of the fugitive slaves address our sympathies, I may mention the case of Lanzy, one of my servants, He came to my tent the morning after I arrived here, ragged, hungry, foot-sore, and weary. Upon inquiry, I have found his story to be true. He is nearly white, and is the son of his master, whose residence is a few miles west of here, but who is now a captain under Price,— a fact which does not predispose me to the rendition of Lanzy, should he be pursued. He is married, after the fashion in which slaves are usually married, and has two children. But his wife and of course her children belong to a widow lady, whose estate adjoins his master’s farm, and several months ago, by reason of the unsettled condition of the country, Lanzy’s wife and little children were sold and taken down to the Red River. Fearing the approach of the Federal forces, last week the Rebel captain sent instructions to have Lanzy and his other slaves removed into Arkansas. This purpose was discovered, and Lanzy and a very old negro, whom he calls uncle, fled at night. For several days they wandered through the forests, and at last succeeded in reaching Springfield. How can a man establish a stronger claim to the sympathy and protection of a stranger than that which tyranny, misfortune, and misery have given to this poor negro upon me? Bereft of wife and children, whose love was the sunshine of his dark and dreary life, threatened with instant exile from which there was no hope of escape, what was there of which imagination can conceive that could increase the load of evil which pressed upon this unhappy man? Is it strange that he fled from his hard fate, as the hare flies from the hounds?

His case is by no means extraordinary. Go to any one of the dusky figures loitering around yonder fire, and you will hear a moving story of oppression and sorrow. Every slave who runs breathless into our lines and claims the soldier’s protection, not only appeals to him as a soldier struggling with a deadly foe, but addresses every generous instinct of his manhood. Mighty forces born of man’s sympathy for man are at work in this war, and will continue their work, whether we oppose or yield to them.

Yesterday fifty-three Delaware Indians came from Kansas to serve under the General. Years ago he made friends of the Delawares, when travelling through their country upon his first journey of exploration; and hearing that he was on the war-path, the tribe have sent their best young warriors to join him. They are descendants of the famous tribe which once dwelt on the Delaware River, and belonged to the confederacy of the Six  Nations,—for more than two centuries the most powerful Indian community in America. Their ancient prowess remains. The Delawares are feared all over the Plains, and their war-parties have often penetrated beyond the Rocky Mountains, carrying terror through all the Indian tribes. These men are fine specimens of their race, — tall, lightly formed, and agile. They ride little shaggy ponies, rough enough to look at, but very hardy and active; and they are armed with the old American rifle, the traditional weapon which Cooper places in the hands of his red heroes. They are led by the chief of their tribe, Fall-Leaf, a dignified personage, past the noon of life, but showing in his erect form and dark eye that the fires of manhood burn with undiminished vigor.

THE SITUATION.

Springfield, November 1st. It is certain that Price left Neosho on Monday and is moving towards us. He probably heard how small the force was with which the General arrived here, and thinks that he can overwhelm us before the other divisions come up. We have had some fear of this ourselves, and all the dispositions have been made for a stubborn defence in case we are attacked. The last two nights we have slept on our arms, with our horses saddled and baggage packed. Now all danger is past: a part of Pope’s division came in this morning, and McKinstry is close at hand. He has marched nearly seventy miles in three days. The evidence that Price is advancing is conclusive. Our scouts have reported that he was moving, and numerous deserters have confirmed these reports; but we have other evidence of the most undoubted reliability. During the last two days, hundreds of men, women, and children have come into our lines, —Union people who fled at the approach of the Rebels. I have talked with a number of these fugitives who reside southwest from here, and they all represent the roads to be filled with vast numbers of men and teams going towards Wilson’s Creek. They give the most exaggerated estimates of the number of the enemy, placing them at from fifty thousand to one hundred and twenty-five thousand men; but the scouts and deserters say that the whole force does not exceed thirty-two thousand, and of these a large number are poorly armed and quite undisciplined. Hunter has not come up, nor has he been heard from directly, but there is a report that yesterday he had not left the Osage: if this be true, he will not be here in time for the battle.

The Rebel generals must now make their choice between permitting themselves to be cut off from their base of operations and sources of supply and reinforcement, and attempting to reach Forsyth, in which case they will have to give us battle. The movement from Neosho leaves no doubt that they intend to fight. It is said by the deserters that Price would be willing to avoid an engagement, but he is forced to offer battle by the necessities of his position, the discontent of his followers, the approaching expiration of their term of enlistment, and the importunities of McCulloch, who declares he will not make another retreat.

We are now perfectly prepared. Hunter’s delay leaves us with only twenty-two thousand men, seventy pieces of artillery, and about four thousand cavalry. In view of our superiority as respects armament, discipline, and ordnance, we are more than a match for our opponent. We sleep to-night in constant expectation of an attack: two guns will be fired as a signal that the enemy are at hand.

THE REMOVAL.

Springfield, November 2d. The catastrophe has come which we have long dreaded, but for which we were in no degree prepared. This morning, at about ten o’clock, while I was standing in front of my tent, chatting with some friends, an officer in the uniform of a captain of the general staff rode up, and asked the orderly to show him to the General. He went into the house, and in a few moments came out and rode off. I soon learned that he had brought an order from General Scott informing General Fremont that he was temporarily relieved of his command, and directing him to transfer it to Major-General Hunter and report himself to the head-quarters of the army by letter. The order was originally dated October 7th, but the date had been altered to October 24th, on which day it left St. Louis, —the day the Guards started upon their expedition to Springfield.

This order, which, on the very eve of consummation, has defeated the carefully matured plans upon which the General’s fortunes and in so large a measure the fortunes of the country depended, —which has destroyed the results of three months of patient labor, transferring to another the splendid army he has called together, organized, and equipped, and giving to another the laurel wreath of victory which now hangs ready to fall at the touch, —this order, which has disappointed so many long-cherished hopes, was received by our magnanimous General without a word of complaint. In his noble mind there was no doubt or hesitation. He obeyed it promptly and implicitly. He at once directed Colonel Eaton to issue the proper order transferring the command to General Hunter, and having prepared a brief address to the soldiers, full of pathos and patriotic devotion, he rode out accompanied by the Delawares to examine the positions south of the village.

Hunter has not yet been heard from: three couriers have been sent after him. General Pope is now in command here. It is understood, that, until the Commanding General arrives, the army will stand upon the defensive, and that no engagement will take place, unless it is attacked. General Fremont and his staff will leave to-morrow for St. Louis.

This evening I rode through Sigel’s and McKinstry’s camps. The general order and the farewell address had been read to the regiments, and the camp-fires were surrounded by groups of excited soldiers, and cheers for Fremont were heard on every side.

November 3d, 8 P. M. This morning it became apparent that the departure of the General before the arrival of Hunter would endanger the discipline of the army. Great numbers of officers have offered their resignations, and it has required the constant and earnest efforts of General Fremont to induce them to retain their positions. The slightest encouragement upon his part of the discontent which prevails will disorganize the divisions of Sigel and Asboth.

The attitude of the enemy is threatening, and it does not seem possible to avoid a battle more than a few hours. Great numbers of people, flying before Price, have come in to-day. A reconnaissance in the direction of Springfield has been made, and the following report rendered by General Asboth.

HEADQUARTERS FOURTH DIVISION WESTERN DEPARTMENT.

Springfield, November 3d, 1861.

To MAJOR-GENERAL J. C. FREMONT,

Commanding Western Department.

GENERAL : —The captain commanding the company of Major Wright’s battalion, which was sent out on a scouting party to Wilson’s Creek, has just sent in his report by a runner. He says, last night the enemy’s advanced guard, some two thousand strong, camped at Wilson’s Creek. Price’s forces are at Terrill’s Creek on the Marionsville road, nine miles behind Wilson’s Creek, and McCulloch’s forces are at Dug Springs.

Both these forces were expected to concentrate at Wilson’s Creek to-night, and offer battle there.

The scout depicts every road and path covered with moving troops, estimating them at forty thousand men.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient serv’t,

Asboth,

Act.. Maj.-Gen’l Com’d’g 4th Div.

According to this report, the whole of Price’s army is within twenty miles of us, and probably nearer. Hunter has not been heard from, and it is impossible to discover his whereabouts. This afternoon General McKinstry designed to make a reconnaissance in force with his whole division towards Wilson’s Creek but yielding to the solicitations of the chief officers, and in view of the imminence of battle, to-day General Fremont resumed the command, and ordered McKinstry not to make his reconnaissance,—not wishing to bring on a general engagement during the absence of Hunter.

All day long officers have visited General Fremont and urged him to give battle, representing, that, if this opportunity were permitted to pass, Price, after ascertaining our force, would retire, and it would be impossible to catch him again. This evening one hundred and ten officers called upon him in a body. They ranged themselves in semicircular array in front of the house, and one of their number presented an address to the General full of sympathy and respect, and earnestly requesting him to lead them against the enemy. At the close of the interview, the General said, that, under all the circumstances, he felt it to be his duty not to decline the battle which our foe offers us,—and that, if General Hunter did not arrive before midnight, he would lead the army forward to-morrow morning at daybreak; and that they might so inform their several commands. This announcement was received with loud cheers. The staff-officers were at once despatched with directions to the division and brigade commanders to repair forth-with to head-quarters and receive their orders. The Generals assembled at eight o’clock, and the following order of battle was then published.

HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT.

Springfield, November 3, 1861.

The different divisions of the army shall be put in the following order of battle.

Act’g Maj.-Gen. Asboth, right wing.

“          “          McKinstry, centre.

“          “          Sigel, left.

“          “          Pope, reserve.

General McKinstry’s column to leave camp at six o’clock, and proceed by the Fayetteville road to the upper end of the upper cornfield on the left, where General Lyon made his first attack.

General Sigel to start at six o’clock by Joakum’s Mill, and follow his old trail, except that he is to turn to the right some two miles sooner, and proceed to the old stable on the lower end of the lower cornfield.

General Asboth to start at six and one-half o’clock, by the Mount Vernon road, then by a prairie road to the right of the ravine opposite the lower field.

General Pope to start at seven o’clock by the Fayetteville road, following General McKinstry’s column.

General Lane to join General Sigel’s division. General Wyman to join General Asboth’s division.

One regiment and two pieces of artillery of General Pope’s division to remain as a reserve in Springfield.

The different divisions to come into their positions at the same time, about eleven o’clock, at which hour a simultaneous attack will be made.

The baggage-trains to be packed and held in readiness at Springfield. Each regiment to carry three two-horse wagons to transport the wounded.

J. C. FREMONT,

Maj.-Gen’l Com’d’g.

The General and staff with the Body-Guard, Benton Cadets, Sharp-shooters, and Delawares, will accompany McKinstry’s column.

The news has spread like wildfire. As I galloped up the road this evening, returning from McKinstry’s quarters, every camp was astir. The enthusiasm was unbounded. On every side the eager soldiers are preparing for the conflict. They are packing wagons, sharpening sabres, grooming horses, and cleaning muskets. The spirit of our men promises a brilliant victory.

Midnight. At eleven o’clock General Hunter entered the Council of Generals at headquarters. General Fremont explained to him the situation of affairs, the attitude of the enemy, and the dispositions which had been made for the following day, and then gracefully resigned the command into his hands. And thus our hopes are finally defeated, and in the morning we turn our faces to the north. General Hunter will not advance tomorrow, and the opportunity of catching Price will probably be lost, for it is not likely the Rebel General will remain at Wilson’s Creek after he has learned that the whole Federal army is concentrated.

The news of the change has not yet reached the camps. As I sit here, wearied with the excitement and labors of the day, the midnight stillness is broken by the din of preparation, the shouting of teamsters, the clang of the cavalry anvils, and the distant cheers of the soldiers, still excited with the hope of tomorrow’s victory.

The Body-Guard and Sharp-shooters return with us; and all the officers of General Fremont’s staff have received orders to accompany him.

HOMEWARD BOUND.

In camp, twenty-five miles north of Springfield, November 4th. At nine o’clock this morning we were in the saddle, and our little column was in marching order. The Delawares led, then came our band, the General and his staff followed, the Body-Guard came next, and the Sharp-shooters in wagons brought up the rear. In this order we proceeded through the village. The Benton Cadets were drawn up in line in front of their camp, and saluted us as we passed, but none of the other regiments were paraded. The band had been directed to play lively airs, and we marched out to merry music. The troops did not seem to know that the General was to leave; but when they heard the band, they ran out of their camps and flocked into the streets: there was no order in their coming; they came without arms, many of them without their coats and bareheaded, and filled the road. The crowd was so dense that with difficulty the General rode through the throng. The farewell was most touching. There was little cheering, but an expression of sorrow on every face. Some pressed forward to take his hand; others cried, “God bless you, General!” “Your enemies are not in the camp!” “Come back and lead us to battle; we will fight for you!” The General rode on perfectly calm, a pleasant smile on his face, telling the men he was doing his duty, and they must do theirs.

We travelled with great rapidity and circumspection; for there was some reason to suppose that parties of the enemy had been thrown to the north of Springfield, in which case we might have been interfered with.

Sedalia, November 7th. We are waiting for the train which is to take us to St. Louis. Our journey here has been made very quickly. Monday we marched twenty-five miles. Tuesday we started at dawn, and made thirty miles, encamping twenty-five miles south of the Osage. Wednesday we were in the saddle at six o’clock, crossed the Osage in the afternoon, and halted ten miles north of that river, the day’s journey being thirty-five miles. We pitched our tents upon a high, flat prairie, covered with long dry grass.

In the evening the Delawares signified, that, if the General would consent to it, they would perform a war-dance. Permission was easily obtained, and, after the Indian braves had finished their toilet, they approached in formal procession, arrayed in all the glory and terror of war-paint. A huge fire had been built. The inhabitants of our little camp quickly gathered, officers, soldiers of the Guard, and Sharp-shooters, negroes and teamsters. The Indians ranged themselves on one side of the fire, and the rest of us completed the circle. The dancing was done by some half-dozen young Indians, to the monotonous beating of two small drums and a guttural accompaniment which the dancers sang, the other Indians joining in the chorus. The performance was divided into parts, and the whole was intended to express the passions which war excites in the Indian nature, —the joy which they feel at the prospect of a fight, —their contempt for their enemies, —their frenzy at sight of the foe, —the conflict, —the operations of tomahawking and scalping their opponents, —and, finally, the triumph of victory. The performances occupied over two hours. Fall-Leaf presided with an air of becoming gravity, smoking an enormous stone pipe with a long reed stem.

After rendering thanks in proper form, Fall-Leaf was told, that, by way of return for their civility, and in special honor of the Delawares, the negroes would dance one of their national dances. Two agile darkies came forward, and went through with a regular break-down, to the evident entertainment of the red men. Afterwards an Irishman leaped into the ring, and began an Irish hornpipe. He was the best dancer of all, and his complicated steps and astonishing tours-de-force completely upset the gravity of the Indians, and they burst into loud laughter. It was midnight before the camp was composed to its last night’s sleep.

This morning we started an hour before day, and marched to this place, twenty miles, by noon.

Thus ended the expedition of General Fremont to Springfield.

In bringing these papers to a close, the writer cannot refrain from expressing his regret that circumstances have prevented him from making that exposition of affairs in the Western Department which the country has long expected. While he was in the field, General Fremont permitted the attacks of his enemies to pass unheeded, because he held them unworthy to be intruded upon more important occupations, and he would not be diverted from the great objects he was pursuing; since his recall, considerations affecting the public service, and the desire not at this time to embarrass the Government with personal matters, have sealed his lips. I will not now disregard his wishes by entering into any detailed discussion of the charges which have been made against him, —but I cannot lay down my pen without bearing voluntary testimony to the fidelity, energy, and skill which he brought to his high office. It will be hard for any one who was not a constant witness of his career to appreciate the labor which he assumed and successfully performed. From the first to the last hour of the day, there was no idle moment. No time was given to pleasure, —none even to needed relaxation. Often, long after the strength of his body was spent, the force of his will bound him to exhausting toil. No religious zealot ever gave himself to his devotions with more absorbing abandonment than General Fremont to his hard, and, as it has proved, most thankless task. Time will verify the statement, that, whether as respects thoroughness or economy, his administration of affairs at the West will compare favorably with the transactions of any other department of the Government, military or civil, during the last nine months. Let it be contrasted with the most conspicuous instance of the management of military affairs at the East.

The period between the President’s Proclamation and the Battle of Manassas was about equal in duration to the career of Fremont in the West. The Federal Government had at command all the resources, in men, material, and money, of powerful, wealthy, and populous communities. Nothing was asked which was not promptly and lavishly given. After three months of earnest effort, assisted by the best military and civil talent of the country, by the whole army organization, by scientific soldiers and an accomplished and experienced staff, a column of thirty thousand men, with thirty-four pieces of artillery and but four hundred cavalry, was moved a distance of twenty-two miles. Though it had been in camp several weeks, up to a few days before its departure it was without brigade or division organization, and ignorant of any evolutions except those of the battalion. It was sent forward without equipage, without a sufficient commissariat or an adequate medical establishment. This armed mob was led against an intrenched foe, and driven back in wild and disgraceful defeat, —a defeat which has prolonged the war for a year, called for a vast expenditure of men and treasure, and now to our present burdens seems likely to add those of a foreign war. The authors of this great disaster remain unpunished, and, except in the opinions of the public, unblamed; while nearly all the officers who led the ill-planned, ill-timed, and badly executed enterprise have received distinguished promotions, such as the soldier never expects to obtain, except as the reward of heroic and successful effort.

When General Fremont reached St. Louis, the Federal militia were returning to their homes, and a confident foe pressed upon every salient point of an extended and difficult defensive position. Drawing his troops from a few sparsely settled and impoverished States, denied expected and needed assistance in money and material from the General Government, he overcame every obstacle, and at the end of eight weeks led forth an army of thirty thousand men, with five thousand cavalry and eighty-six pieces of artillery. Officers of high rank declared that this force could not leave its encampments by reason of the lack of supplies and transportation; but he conveyed them one hundred and ninety miles by rail, marched them one hundred and thirty-five miles, crossing a broad and rapid river in five days, and in three months from his assumption of the command, and in one month after leaving St. Louis, placed them in presence of the enemy, —not an incoherent mass, but a well-ordered and compact army, upon whose valor, steadfastness, and discipline the fate of the nation might safely have been pledged.

If General Fremont was not tried by the crowning test of the soldier—the battle-field —it was not through fault of his. On the very eve of battle he was removed. His army was arrested in its triumphal progress, and compelled to a shameful retreat, abandoning the beautiful region it had wrested from the foe, and deserting the loyal people who trusted to its protection, and who, exiles from their homes, followed its retreating files,—a mournful procession of broken-hearted men, weeping women, and suffering children. With an unscrupulousness which passes belief, the authors of this terrible disaster have denied the presence of the enemy at Springfield. The miserable wretches, once prosperous farmers upon the slopes of the Ozark Hills, who now wander mendicants through the streets of St. Louis, or crouch around the camp-fires of Rolla and Sedalia, can tell whether Price was near Springfield or not.

Forty-eight hours more must have given to General Fremont an engagement. What the result would have been no one who was there doubted. A victory such as the country has long desired and sorely needs, —a decisive, complete, and overwhelming victory, —was as certain as it is possible for the skill and valor of man to make certain any future event. Now, twenty thousand men are required to hold our long line of defence in Missouri; then, five thousand at Springfield would have secured the State of Missouri, and a column pushed into Arkansas would have turned the enemy’s position upon the Mississippi. In the same time and with the same labor that the march to the rear was made, two States might have been won, and the fate of the Rebellion in the Southwest decided.

While I am writing these concluding pages, the telegraph brings information that another expedition has started for Springfield. Strong columns are marching from Rolla, Sedalia, and Versailles, to do the work which General Fremont stood ready to do last November. After three months of experience and reflection, the enterprise which was denounced as aimless, extravagant, and ill-judged, which was derided as a wild hunt after an unreal foe, an exploration into desert regions, is now repeated in face of the obstacles of difficult roads and an inclement season, and when many of the objects of the expedition no longer exist, —for, unhappily, the loyal inhabitants of those fertile uplands, the fruitful farms and pleasant homes, are no longer there to receive the protection of our armies. General Fremont’s military conduct could not have received more signal approval. The malignant criticisms of his enemies could in no other manner have been so completely refuted. Unmoved by the storm of calumny and detraction which raged around him, he has calmly and silently awaited the unerring judgment, the triumphant verdict, which he knew time and the ebb of the bad passions his success excited would surely bring.


Fremont’s 100 Days in Missouri – Part 2

Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri

Atlantic Monthly, Jan-Mar, 1862

Introduction by G. E. Rule

The unnamed author of Fremont’s Hundred Days in Missouri was a member of the general’s staff. Clearly not a native of Missouri, this Union officer often displayed a definite bias against Missourians; no doubt fueled by reading years of “Border Ruffian” stories in eastern newspapers. He observes of the people of Jefferson City, cited by most historians as the second most pro-Union population in Missouri behind only St. Louis, that “Such vacant, listless faces, with laziness written in every line, and ignorance seated upon every feature! Is it for these that the descendants of New England and the thrifty Germans are going forth to battle? If Missouri depended upon the Missourians, there would be little chance for her safety, and, indeed, not very much to save.”  Later he observes of some local farmers that “The Union men of Missouri are quite willing to have you fight for them, but their patriotism does not go farther than this.” These statements might be amusing if one didn’t know that such biases by many Union troops would lead to bitter fruit in the guerrilla war ahead.

Also, there can be no doubt of the author’s opinion of General Fremont. Fremont is depicted as nearly God-like in his attributes and skills in everything he does. To be fair, this is hardly unknown in the history of campaign journals written by junior officers. We have not hesitated to depict Fremont in much less favorable light on the site; we are pleased to have the opportunity to give one of the general’s defenders a chance to tell the story from the other side.

Regardless of the obvious biases of the author, this seems to be an important, detailed primary account by a participant of Fremont’s abortive campaign to catch General Price in the fall of 1861.  It appeared in three parts in the national magazine The Atlantic Monthly (still a going concern), Jan through March, 1862, and gained enough national attention that Frank Blair felt the need to refer to it by name, and rebut it, on the floor of the House of Representatives on March 7, 1862. Blair’s rebuttal can be found here on our site.

The author uses almost 24,000 words to cover just five weeks of campaigning, and when he isn’t lauding the general provides some very interesting details of the first large-scale campaign by a Union army west of the Mississippi (an army six times the size of the one Lyon lead at Wilson’s Creek), the general condition of affairs in Missouri, the slavery issue, and the people of Missouri. His account of the famous “Zagonyi’s Charge” at Springfield is particularly fine, and as the author claims to have been a member of the committee of inquiry following the event, may be presumed to be fairly accurate, if a bit breathless –most historians would not agree that it deserves to be compared to the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, as the author alludes to here. His personal observations of two hundred armed and mounted “contrabands” as part of Jim Lane’s Kansas brigade leads one to suspect that “contraband” is a title of convenience here; an armed and mounted man on campaign with an army is a soldier no matter what you call him. Since under the then-current regs of the Union army he could not be called a “soldier”, the author avoids that label –but “a rose by any other name”.

It is also worth noting that most historians would argue with the author’s conclusion at the end that just another forty-eight hours given to Fremont would have resulted in the climactic battle with Price that the Pathfinder sought. Albert Castel’s General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (1968), widely considered the leading history of Price’s Civil War career, asserts that Price was at Pineville, much further southwest of where Fremont thought he was on November 2, 1861.

Interestingly enough, the standard bio of the general’s life, Fremont: Pathmarker of the West, by Allan Nevins, does not appear to use this article as one of its sources. As it is very sympathetic to Fremont, a fine, detailed campaign journal of his major campaign in Missouri, and impactful enough to warrant a public rebuttal from Frank Blair, this is more than passingly strange. It is unclear if Nevins was unaware of this article or just did not find it interesting enough to use for his book.

We found this article on the excellent (and free) Making of America site of Cornell University, that includes many journals from this period besides The Atlantic Monthly. We will be publishing it in three parts, just as it appeared in the magazine.


goto Part I

goto Part III

II.

Camp Haskell, October 24th. We have marched twelve miles to-day, and are encamped near the house of a friendly German farmer. Our cortege has been greatly diminished in number. Some of the staff have returned to St. Louis; to others have been assigned duties which remove them from headquarters; and General Asboth’s division being now in the rear, that soldierly-looking officer no longer rides beside the General, and the gentlemen of his staff no longer swell our ranks.

As we approach the enemy there is a marked change in the General’s demeanor. Usually reserved, and even retiring, —now that his plans begin to work out results, that the Osage is behind us, that the difficulties of deficient transportation have been conquered, there is an unwonted eagerness in his face, his voice is louder, and there is more self-assertion in his attitude. He has hitherto proceeded on a walk, but now he presses on at a trot. His horsemanship is perfect. Asboth is a daring rider, loving to drive his animal at the top of his speed. Zagonyi rides with surpassing grace, and selects fiery chargers which no one else cares to mount. Colonel E. has an easy, business-like gait. But in lightness and security in the saddle the General excels them all. He never worries his beast, is sure to get from him all the work of which he is capable, is himself quite incapable of being fatigued in this way.

Just after sundown the camp was startled by heavy infantry firing. Going around the spur of the forest which screens head-quarters from the prairie, we found the Guard dismounted, drawn up in line, firing their carbines and revolvers. The circumstance excites curiosity, and we learn that Zagonyi has been ordered to make a descent upon Springfield, and capture or disperse the Rebel garrison, three or four hundred strong, which is said to be there. Major White has already gone forward with his squadron of “Prairie Scouts” to make a reconnaissance in the direction of Springfield. Zagonyi will overtake White, assume command of the whole force, which will number about three hundred men, and turn the reconnaissance into an attack. The Guard set out at eight o’clock this evening. A few are left behind to do duty around headquarters. Lieutenant Kennedy, of the Kentucky company, was ordered to remain in command of our Home-Guard. He was greatly grieved, and went to the Major and with tears in his eyes besought him to permit him to go. Zagonyi could not refuse the gallant fellow, and all the officers of the Guard have gone. There is a feeling of sadness in camp to-night. We wonder which of our gay and generous comrades will come back to us again.

October 25th. We moved only seven miles to-day. It is understood that the General will gather the whole army upon a large prairie a few miles north of Bolivar, and devote a few days to reviewing the troops, and to field-maneuvers. This will have an excellent effect. The men will be encouraged when they see how large the column is, for the army has never been concentrated.

This morning we received news of the brilliant affair at Fredericktown.

Just before the General left camp to-day, I received orders to report myself to General Asboth, for duty as Judge-Advocate of a Court-Martial to be held in his division. General Asboth was several miles behind us, and I set out to ride back and join him. After a gallop of half an hour across the prairie, I discovered that I had lost my way. I vainly tried to find some landmark of yesterday’s march, but was at last compelled to trust to the sagacity of my horse, — the redoubtable Spitfire, so named by reason of his utter contempt for gunpowder, whether sputtered out of muskets or belched forth by cannon. I gave him his head. He snuffed the air for a moment, deliberately swept the horizon with his eyes, and then turned short around and carried me back to the farm-house from which I had started. I arrived just in time for dinner. Two officers of Lane’s brigade, which had marched from Kansas, came in while we were at the table. They seasoned our food with spicy incidents of Kansas life.

After dinner I started with Captain H., of Springfield, to find Asboth. As we left the house, we were joined by the most extraordinary character I have seen. He was a man of medium height. His chest was enormous in length and breadth; his arms long, muscular, and very large; his legs short. He had the body of a giant upon the legs of a dwarf. This curious figure was surmounted by a huge head, covered with coarse brown hair, which grew very nearly down to his eyes, while his beard grew almost up to his eyes. It seemed as if the hair and beard had had a struggle for the possession of his face, and were kept apart by the deep chasm in which his small gray eyes were set. He was armed with a huge bowie-knife, which he carried slung like a sword. It was at least two feet long, heavy as a butcher’s cleaver, and was thrust into a sheath of undressed hide. He called this pleasant instrument an Arkansas toothpick. He bestrode, as well as his diminutive legs would let him, an Indian pony as shaggy as himself. This person proved to be a bearer of despatches, and offered to guide us to the main road, along which Asboth was marching.

The pony started off at a brisk trot, and in an hour we were upon the road, which we found crowded with troops and wagons. Pressing through the underbrush alongside the road, we kept on at a rapid pace. We soon heard shouts and cheers ahead of us, and in a few moments came in sight of a farm-house, in front of which was an excited crowd. Men were swarming in at every door and window. The yard was filled with furniture which the troops were angrily breaking, and a considerable party was busy tearing up the roof. I could not learn the cause of the uproar, except that a Secessionist lived there who had killed some one. I passed on, and in a little while arrived at Asboth’s quarters.

He had established himself in an unpretending, but comfortable farm-house, formerly owned by a German, named Brown. This house has lately been the scene of one of those bloody outrages, instigated by neighborhood hatred, which have been so frequent in Missouri. Old Brown had lived here more than thirty years. He was industrious, thrifty, and withal a skilful workman. Under his intelligent husbandry his farm became the marvel of all that region. He had long outlived his strength, and when the war broke out he could give to the Union nothing but his voice and influence: these he gave freely and at all times. The plain-spoken patriot excited the enmity of the Secessionists, and the special hatred of one man, his nearest neighbor. All through the summer, his barns were plundered, his cattle driven away, his fences torn down; but no one offered violence to the white-headed old man, or to the three women who composed his family. The approach of our army compelled the Rebels of the neighborhood to fly, and among the fugitives was the foe I have mentioned. He was not willing to depart and leave the old German to welcome the Union troops. Just one week ago, at a late hour in the evening, he rode up to Brown’s door and knocked loudly. The old man cautiously asked who it was. The wretch replied, “A friend who wants lodging.” As a matter of course, —for in this region every house is a tavern,—the farmer opened the door, and at the instant was pierced through the heart by a bullet from the pistol of his cowardly foe. The blood-stains are upon the threshold still. It was the murderer’s house the soldiers sacked to-day. A German artillery company heard the story, and began to plunder the premises under the influence of a not unjustifiable desire for revenge. General Asboth, however, compelled the men to desist, and to replace the furniture they had taken out.

I found General Sturgis, and Captain Parrot, his Adjutant, at General Asboth’s, on their way to report to General Fremont. Sturgis has brought his command one hundred and fifty miles in ten days. He says that large numbers of deserters have come into his lines. Price’s followers are becoming discouraged by his continued retreat.

The business which detained me in the rear was finished at an early hour, but I waited in order to accompany General Asboth, who, with some of his staff, was intending to go to headquarters, five miles farther south. We set out at nine o clock. General Asboth likes to ride at the top of his horse’s speed, and at once put his gray into a trot so rapid that we were compelled to gallop in order to keep up. We dashed over a rough road, down a steep decline, and suddenly found ourselves floundering through a stream nearly up to our saddle-girths. My horse had had a hard day’s work. He began to be unsteady on his pins. So I drew up, preferring the hazards of a night-ride across the prairie to a fall upon the stony road. The impetuous old soldier, followed by his companions, rushed into the darkness, and the clatter of their hoofs and the rattling of their sabres faded from my hearing.

I was once more alone on the prairie. The sky was cloudless, but the starlight struggling through a thin haze suggested rather than revealed surrounding objects. I bent over my horse’s shoulder to trace the course of the road but I could see nothing. There were no trees, no fences. I listened for the rustling of the wind over the prairie-grass; but as soon as Spitfire stopped, I found that not a breath of air was stirring: his motion had created the breeze. I turned a little to the left, and at once felt the Mexican stirrup strike against the long, rank grass. Quite exultant with the thought that I had found a certain test that I was in the road, I turned back and regained the beaten track. But now a new difficulty arose. At once the thought suggested itself—“Perhaps I turned the wrong way when I came back into the road, and am now going away from my destination.” I drew up and looked around me. There was nothing to be seen except the veiled stars above, and upon either hand a vast dark expanse, which might be a lake, the sea, or a desert, for anything I could discern. I listened: there was no sound except the deep breathing of my faithful horse, who stood with ears erect, eagerly snuffing the night-air. I had heard that horses can see better than men. “Let me try the experiment.” I gave Spitfire his head. He moved across the road, went out upon the prairie a little distance, waded into a brook which I had not seen, and began to drink. When he had finished, he returned to the road without the least hesitation.

“The horse can certainly see better than I. Perhaps I am the only one of this company who is in trouble, and the good beast is all this while perfectly composed and at ease, and knows quite well where to go.”

I loosened the reins. Spitfire went forward slowly, apparently quite confident, and yet cautious about the stones in his path.

I now began to speculate upon the distance I had come. I thought,— “It is some time since we started. Headquarters were only five miles off. I rode fast at first. It is strange there are no campfires in sight.”

Time is measured by sensation, and with me minutes were drawn out into hours. “Surely, it is midnight. I have been here three hours at the least. The road must have forked, and I have gone the wrong way. The most sagacious of horses could not be expected to know which of two roads to take. There is nothing to be done. I am in for the night, and had better stay here than go farther in the wrong direction.”

I dismount, fill my pipe, and strike a light. I laugh at my thoughtlessness, and another match is lighted to look at my watch, which tells me I have been on the road precisely twenty minutes. I mount. Spitfire seems quite composed, perhaps a little astonished at the unusual conduct of his rider, hut he walks on composedly, carefully avoiding the rolling stones.

It is not a pleasant situation, —on a prairie alone and at night, not knowing where you are going or where you ought to go. Zimmermann himself never imagined a solitude more complete, albeit such a situation is not so favorable to philosophic meditation as the rapt Zimmermann might suppose. I employ my thoughts as well as I am able, and pin my faith to the sagacity of Spitfire. Presently a light gleams in front of me. It is only a flickering, uncertain ray; perhaps some belated teamster is urging his reluctant mules to camp and has lighted his lantern. No, — there are sparks; it is a camp-fire. I hearken for the challenge, not without solicitude; for it is about as dangerous to approach a nervous sentinel as to charge a battery. I do not hear the stern inquiry, “Who comes there?” At last I am abreast of the fire, and myself call out, —

“Who is there?”

“We are travellers,” is the reply.

What this meant I did not know. What travellers are there through this distracted, war-worn region? Are they fugitives from Price, or traitors flying before us? I am not in sufficient force to capture half a dozen men, and if they are foes, it is not worth while to be too inquisitive; so I continue on my way, and they and their fire are soon enveloped by the night. Presently I see another light in the far distance. This must be a picket, for there are soldiers. I look around for the sentry, not quite sure whether I am to be challenged or shot; but again am permitted to approach unquestioned. I call out, —

“Who is there?”

“Men of Colonel Carr’s regiment.”

“What are you doing here?”

“We are guarding some of our wagons which were left here. Our regiment has gone forward at a half-hour’s notice to reinforce Zagonyi,” said a sergeant, rising and saluting me.

“But is there no sentry here?” I asked.

“There was one, but he has been withdrawn,” replied the sergeant.

“Where are headquarters?”

“At the first house on your right, about a hundred yards farther up the road,” he said, pointing in the direction I was going.

It was strange that I could ride up to within pistol-shot of headquarters without being challenged. I soon reached the house. A sentry stood at the gate. I tied my horse to the fence, and walked into the Adjutant’s tent. I had passed by night from one division of the army to another, along the public road, and entered headquarters without being questioned. Twenty-five bold men might have carried off the General. I at once reported these facts to Colonel E.; inquiry was made, and it was found that some one had blundered.

There is no report from Springfield. Zagonyi sent back for reinforcements before he reached the town, and Carr’s cavalry, with two light field-pieces, have been sent forward. Captain R., my companion this afternoon, has also gone to learn what he may. While I am writing up my journal, a group of officers is around the fire in front of the tent. They are talking about Zagonyi and the Guard. We are all feverish with anxiety.

October 26th. This morning I was awakened by loud cheers from the camp of the Benton Cadets. My servant came at my call.

“What are those cheers for, Dan?”

“The Body-Guard has won a great victory, Sir! They have beaten the Rebels, driven them out of Springfield, and killed over a hundred of them. The news came late last night, and the General has issued an order which has just been read to the Cadets.”

The joyful words had hardly reached my eager ears when shouts were heard from the sharp-shooters. They have got the news. In an instant the camp is astir. Half-dressed, the officers rush from their tents, — servants leave their work, cooks forget breakfast, — they gather together, and breathless drink in the delicious story. We hear how the brave Guard, finding the foe three times as strong as had been reported, resolved to go on, in spite of odds, for their own honor and the honor of our General,— how Zagonyi led the onset, —how with cheers and shouts of “Union and Fremont,” the noble fellows rushed upon the foe as gayly as boys at play,—what deeds of daring were done, — that Zagonyi, Foley, Maythenyi, Newhall, Treikel, Goff and Kennedy shone heroes in the fray, — how gallantly the Guards had fought, and how gloriously they had died. These things we heard, feasting upon every word, and interrupting the fervid recital with involuntary exclamations of sympathy and joy.

It did not fall to the fortune of the writer to take part with the Body-Guard in their memorable attack, but, as the Judge-Advocate of a Court of Inquiry into that affair, which was held at Springfield immediately after our arrival there, I became familiar with the field and the incidents of the battle. I trust it will not be regarded as an inexcusable digression, if I recite the facts connected with the engagement, which, as respects the odds encountered, the heroism displayed, and the importance of its results, is still the most remarkable encounter of the war.

THE BODY-GUARD AT SPRINGFIELD.

It may not be out of place to say a few words as to the character and organization of the Guard. Among the foreign officers whom the fame of General Fremont drew around him was Charles Zagonyi, —an Hungarian refugee, but long a resident of this country. In his boyhood, Zagonyi had plunged into the passionate, but unavailing, struggle which Hungary made for her liberty. He at once attracted the attention of General Bem, and was by him placed in command of a picked company of cavalry. In one of the desperate engagements of the war, Zagonyi led a charge upon a large artillery force. More than half of his men were slain. He was wounded and taken prisoner. Two years passed before he could exchange an Austrian dungeon for American exile.

General Fremont welcomed Zagonyi cordially, and authorized him to recruit a company of horse, to act as his body-guard. Zagonyi was most scrupulous in his selection; but so ardent was the desire to serve under the eye and near the person of the General, that in five days after the lists were opened two full companies were enlisted. Soon after a whole company, composed of the very flower of the youth of Kentucky, tendered its services, and requested to be added to the Guard. Zagonyi was still overwhelmed with applications, and he obtained permission to recruit a fourth company. The fourth company, however, did not go with us into the field. The men were clad in blue jackets, trousers, and caps. They were armed with light German sabres, the best that at that time could be procured, and revolvers; besides which, the first company carried carbines. They were mounted upon bay horses, carefully chosen from the Government stables. Zagonyi had but little time to instruct his recruits, but in less than a month from the commencement of the enlistments the Body-Guard was a well-disciplined and most efficient corps of cavalry. The officers were all Americans except three, —one Hollander, and two Hungarians, Zagonyi and Lieutenant Maythenyi, who came to the United States during his boyhood.

Zagonyi left our camp at eight o’clock on the evening of the twenty-fourth, with about a hundred and sixty men, the remainder of the Guard being left at head-quarters under the command of a non-commissioned officer.

Major White was already on his way to Springfield with his squadron. This young officer, hardly twenty-one years old, had won great reputation for energy and zeal while a captain of infantry in a New York regiment stationed at Fort Monroe. He there saw much hazardous scouting-service, and had been in a number of small engagements. In the West he held a position upon General Fremont’s staff, with the rank of Major. While at Jefferson City, by permission of the General he had organized a battalion to act as scouts and rangers, composed of two companies of the Third Illinois Cavalry, under Captains Fairbanks and Kehoe, and a company of Irish dragoons, Captain Naughton, which had been recruited for Mulligan’s brigade, but had not joined Mulligan in time to be at Lexington.

Major White went to Georgetown in advance of the whole army, from there marched sixty-five miles in one night to Lexington, surprised the garrison, liberated a number of Federal officers who were there wounded and prisoners, and captured the steamers which Price had taken from Mulligan. From Lexington White came by way of Warrensburg to Warsaw. During this long and hazardous expedition, the Prairie Scouts had been without tents, and dependent for food upon the supplies they could take from the enemy.

Major White did not remain at Warsaw to recruit his health, seriously impaired by hardship and exposure. He asked for further service, and was directed to report himself to General Sigel, by whom he was ordered to make a reconnaissance in the direction of Springfield.

After a rapid night-march, Zagonyi overtook White, and assumed command of the whole force. White was quite ill, and, unable to stay in the saddle, was obliged to follow in a carriage. In the morning, yielding to the request of Zagonyi, he remained at a farm-house where the troop had halted for refreshment, — it being arranged that he should rest an hour or two, come on in his carriage with a small escort, and overtake Zagonyi before he reached Springfield. The Prairie Scouts numbered one hundred and thirty, so that the troop was nearly three hundred strong.

The day was fine, the road good, and the little column pushed on merrily, hoping to surprise the enemy. When within two hours’ march of the town, they met a Union farmer of the neighborhood, who told Zagonyi that a large body of Rebels had arrived at Springfield the day before, on their way to reinforce Price, and that the enemy were now two thousand strong. Zagonyi would have been justified, if he had turned back. But the Guard had been made the subject of much malicious remark, and had brought ridicule upon the General. Should they retire now, a storm of abuse would burst upon them. Zagonyi therefore took no counsel of prudence. He could not hope to defeat and capture the foe, but he might surprise them, dash into their camp, destroy their train, and, as he expressed it, “disturb their sleep,” — obtaining a victory which, for its moral effects, would be worth the sacrifices it cost. His daring resolve found unanimous and ardent assent with his zealous followers.

The Union farmer offered to guide Zagonyi by a circuitous route to the rear of the Rebel position, and under his guidance he left the main road about five miles from Springfield.

After an hour of repose, White set out in pursuit of his men, driving his horses at a gallop. He knew nothing of the change in Zagonyi’s plans, and supposed the attack was to be made upon the front of the town. He therefore continued upon the main road, expecting every minute to overtake the column. As he drew near the village, and heard and saw nothing of Zagonyi, he supposed the enemy had left the place and the Federals had taken it without opposition. The approach to Springfield from the north is through a forest, and the village cannot be seen until its outskirts are reached. A sudden turn in the road brought White into the very midst of a strong Rebel guard. They surrounded him, seized his horses, and in an instant he and his companions were prisoners. When they learned his rank, they danced around him like a pack of savages, shouting and holding their cocked pieces at his heart. The leader of the party had a few days before lost a brother in a skirmish with Wyman’s force, and with loud oaths he swore that the Federal Major should die in expiation of his brother s death. He was about to carry his inhuman threat into execution, Major White boldly facing him and saying, “If my men were here, I ‘d give you all the revenge you want.” At this moment a young officer, Captain Wroton by name, — of whom more hereafter, — pressed through the throng, and, placing himself in front of White, declared that he would protect the prisoner with his own life. The firm bearing of Wroton saved the Major’s life, but his captors robbed him and hurried him to their camp, where he remained during the fight, exposed to the hottest of the fire, an excited, hut helpless spectator of the stirring events which followed. He promised his generous protector that he would not attempt to escape, unless his men should try to rescue him; but Captain Wroton remained by his side, guarding him.

Making a detour of twelve miles, Zagonyi approached the position of the enemy. They were encamped half a mile west of Springfield, upon a hill which sloped to the east. Along the northern side of their camp was a broad and well-travelled road; along the southern side a narrow lane ran down to a brook at the foot of the hill: the space between, about three hundred yards broad, was the field of battle. Along the west side of the field, separating it from the county fair-ground, was another lane, connecting the main road and the first-mentioned lane. The side of the hill was clear, but its summit, which was broad and flat, was covered with a rank growth of small timber, so dense as to he impervious to horse.

The following diagram, drawn from memory, will illustrate sufficiently well the shape of the ground, and the position of the respective forces.

The foe were advised of the intended attack. When Major White was brought into their camp, they were preparing to defend their position. As appears from the confessions of prisoners, they had twenty-two hundred men, of whom four hundred were cavalry, the rest being infantry, armed with shot-guns, American rifles, and revolvers. Twelve hundred of their foot were posted along the edge of the wood upon the crest of the hill. The cavalry was stationed upon the extreme left, on top of a spur of the hill and in front of a patch of timber. Sharp-shooters were concealed behind the trees close to the fence along-side the lane, and a small number in some underbrush near the foot of the hill. Another detachment guarded their train, holding possession of the county fair-ground, which was surrounded by a high board-fence.

This position was unassailable by cavalry from the road, the only point of attack being down the lane on the right; and the enemy were so disposed as to command this approach perfectly. The lane was a blind one, being closed, after passing the brook, by fences and ploughed land: it was in fact a cul-de-sac. If the infantry should stand, nothing could save the rash assailants. There are horsemen sufficient to sweep the little band before them, as helplessly as the withered forest-leaves in the grasp of the autumn winds; there are deadly marksmen lying behind the trees upon the heights and lurking in the long grass upon the lowlands; while a long line of foot stand upon the summit of the slope, who, only stepping a few paces back into the forest, may defy the boldest riders. Yet, down this narrow lane, leading into the very jaws of death, came the three hundred.

On the prairie, at the edge of the woodland in which he knew his wily foe lay hidden, Zagonyi halted his command. He spurred along the line. With eager glance he scanned each horse and rider. To his officers be gave the simple order, “Follow me! do as I do!” and then, drawing up in front of his men, with a voice tremulous and shrill with emotion, he spoke : —

“Fellow-soldiers, comrades, brothers! This is your first battle. For our three hundred, the enemy are two thousand. If any of you are sick, or tired by the long march, or if any think the number is too great, now is the time to turn back.” He paused; no one was sick or tired. “We must not retreat. Our honor, the honor of our General and our country, tell us to go on. I will lead you. We have been called holiday soldiers for the pavements of St. Louis; to-day we will show that we are soldiers for the battle. Your watchword shall be, ‘The Union and Fremont!’ Draw sabre! By the right flank, — quick trot, — march!”

Bright swords flashed in the sunshine, a passionate shout burst from every lip, and with one accord, the trot passing into a gallop, the compact column swept on to its deadly purpose. Most of them were boys. A few weeks before they had left their homes. Those who were cool enough to note it say that ruddy cheeks grew pale, and fiery eyes were dimmed with tears. Who shall tell what thoughts, — what visions of peaceful cottages nestling among the groves of Kentucky or shining upon the banks of the Ohio and the Illinois,— what sad recollections of tearful farewells, of tender, loving faces, filled their minds during those fearful moments of suspense? No word was spoken. With lips compressed, firmly clenching their sword-hilts, with quick tramp of hoofs and clang of steel, honor leading and glory awaiting them, the young soldiers flew forward, each brave rider and each straining steed members of one huge creature, enormous, terrible, irresistible.

“‘T’were worth ten years of peaceful life,

One glance at their array.”

They pass the fair-ground. They are at the corner of the lane where the wood begins. It runs close to the fence on their left for a hundred yards, and beyond it they see white tents gleaming. They are half-way past the forest, when, sharp and loud, a volley of musketry bursts upon the head of the column; horses stagger, riders reel and fall, but the troop presses forward undismayed. The farther corner of the wood is reached, and Zagonyi beholds the terrible array. Amazed, he involuntarily checks his horse. The Rebels are not surprised. There to his left they stand crowning the height, foot and horse ready to ingulf him, if he shall be rash enough to go on. The road he is following declines rapidly. There is but one thing to do, —run the gantlet, gain the cover of the hill, and charge up the steep. These thoughts pass quicker than they can be told. He waves his sabre over his head, and shouting, “Forward! follow me! quick trot! gallop!” he dashes headlong down the stony road. The first company and most of the second follow. From the left a thousand muzzles belch forth a hissing flood of bullets; the poor fellows clutch wildly at the air and fall from their saddles, and maddened horses throw themselves against the fences. Their speed is not for an instant checked; farther down the hill they fly, like wasps driven by the leaden storm. Sharp volleys pour out of the underbrush at the left, clearing wide gaps through their ranks. They leap the brook, take down the fence, and draw up under the shelter of the hill. Zagonyi looks around him, and to his horror sees that only a fourth of his men are with him. He cries, “They do not come, —we are lost!” and frantically waves his sabre.

He has not long to wait. The delay of the rest of the Guard was not from hesitation. When Captain Foley reached the lower corner of the wood and saw the enemy’s line, he thought a flank attack might be advantageously made. He ordered some of his men to dismount and take down the fence. This was done under a severe fire. Several men fell, and he found the wood so dense that it could not be penetrated. Looking down the hill, he saw the flash of Zagonyi’s sabre, and at once gave the order, “Forward!” At the same time, Lieutenant Kennedy, a stalwart Kentuckian, shouted, “Come on, boys! remember Old Kentucky!” and the third company of the Guard, fire on every side of them, —from behind trees, from under the fences, —with thundering strides and loud cheers, poured down the slope and rushed to the side of Zagonyi. They have lost seventy dead and wounded men, and the carcasses of horses are strewn along the lane. Kennedy is wounded in the arm and lies upon the stones, his faithful charger standing motionless beside him. Lieutenant Goff received a wound in the thigh; he kept his seat, and cried out, “The devils have hit me, but I will give it to them yet!”

The remnant of the Guard are now in the field under the hill, and from the shape of the ground the Rebel fire sweeps with the roar of a whirlwind over their heads. Here we will leave them for a moment, and trace the fortunes of the Prairie Scouts.

When Foley brought his troop to a halt, Captain Fairbanks, at the head of the first company of Scouts, was at the point where the first volley of musketry had been received. The narrow lane was crowded by a dense mass of struggling horses, and filled with the tumult of battle. Captain Fairbanks says, and he is corroborated by several of his men who were near, that at this moment an officer of the Guard rode up to him and said, “They are flying; take your men down that lane and cut off their retreat,” —pointing to the lane at the left. Captain Fairbanks was not able to identify the person who gave this order. It certainly did not come from Zagonyi, who was several hundred yards farther on. Captain Fairbanks executed the order, followed by the second company of Prairie Scouts, under Captain Kehoe. When this movement was made, Captain Naughton, with the Third Irish Dragoons, had not reached the corner of the lane. He came up at a gallop, and was about to follow Fairbanks, when he saw a Guards-man who pointed in the direction in which Zagonyi had gone. He took this for an order, and obeyed it. When he reached the gap in the fence, made by Foley, not seeing anything of the Guard, he supposed they had passed through at that place, and gallantly attempted to follow. Thirteen men fell in a few minutes. He was shot in the arm and dismounted. Lieutenant Connolly spurred into the under-brush and received two balls through the lungs and one in the left shoulder. The Dragoons, at the outset not more than fifty strong, were broken, and, dispirited by the loss of their officers, retired. A sergeant rallied a few and brought them up to the gap again, and they were again driven back. Five of the boldest passed down the hill, joined Zagonyi, and were conspicuous by their valor during the rest of the day. —Fairbanks and Kehoe, having gained the rear and left of the enemy’s position, made two or three assaults upon detached parties of the foe, but did not join in the main attack.

I now return to the Guard. It is forming under the shelter of the hill. In front with a gentle inclination rises a grassy slope broken by occasional tree-stumps. A line of fire upon the summit marks the position of the Rebel infantry, and nearer and on the top of a lower eminence to the right stand their horse. Up to this time no Guardsman has struck a blow, but blue coats and bay horses lie thick along the bloody lane. Their time has come. Lieutenant Maythenyi with thirty men is ordered to attack the cavalry. With sabres flashing over their heads, the little band of heroes spring towards their tremendous foe. Right upon the centre they charge. The dense mass opens, the blue coats force their way in, and the whole Rebel squadron scatter in disgraceful flight through the cornfields in the rear. The bays follow them, sabring the fugitives. Days after, the enemy’s horses lay thick among the uncut corn.

Zagonyi holds his main body until Maythenyi disappears in the cloud of Rebel cavalry; then his voice rises through the air,—“In open order, — charge!” The line opens out to give play to their sword-arm. Steeds respond to the ardor of their riders, and quick as thought, with thrilling cheers, the noble hearts rush into the leaden torrent which pours down the incline. With unabated fire the gallant fellows press through. Their fierce onset is not even checked. The foe do not wait for them, —they waver, break, and fly. The Guardsmen spur into the midst of the rout, and their fast-falling swords work a terrible revenge. Some of the boldest of the Southrons retreat into the woods, and continue a murderous fire from behind trees and thickets. Seven Guard horses fall upon a space not more than twenty feet square. As his steed sinks under him, one of the officers is caught around the shoulders by a grape-vine, and hangs dangling in the air until he is cut down by his friends.

The Rebel foot are flying in furious haste from the field. Some take refuge in the fair-ground, some hurry into the cornfield, but the greater part run along the edge of the wood, swarm over the fence into the road, and hasten to the village. The Guardsmen follow. Zagonyi leads them. Over the loudest roar of battle rings his clarion voice, —“Come on, Old Kentuck! I’m with you!” And the flash of his sword-blade tells his men where to go. As he approaches a barn, a man steps from behind the door and lowers his rifle; but before it has reached the level, Zagonyi’s sabre-point descends upon his head, and his life-blood leaps to the very top of the huge barn-door.

The conflict now rages through the village, —in the public square, and along the streets. Up and down the Guards ride in squads of three or four, and whereever they see a group of the enemy charge upon and scatter them. It is hand to hand. No one but has a share in the fray.

There was at least one soldier in the Southern ranks. A young officer, superbly mounted, charges alone upon a large body of the Guard. He passes through the line unscathed, killing one man. He wheels, charges back, and again breaks through, killing another man. A third time he rushes upon the Federal line, a score of sabre-points confront him, a cloud of bullets fly around him, but he pushes on until he reaches Zagonyi, —he presses his pistol so close to the Major’s side that he feels it and draws convulsively back, the bullet passes through the front of Zagonyi’s coat, who at the instant runs the daring Rebel through the body, he falls, and the men, thinking their commander hurt, kill him with half a dozen wounds.

“He was a brave man,” said Zagonyi afterwards, “and I did wish to make him prisoner.”

Meanwhile it has grown dark. The foe have left the village and the battle has ceased. The assembly is sounded, and the Guard gathers in the Plaza. Not more than eighty mounted men appear: the rest are killed, wounded, or unhorsed. At this time one of the most characteristic incidents of the affair took place.

Just before the charge, Zagonyi directed one of his buglers, a Frenchman, to sound a signal. The bugler did not seem to pay any attention to the order, but darted off with Lieutenant Maythenyi. A few moments afterwards he was observed in another part of the field vigorously pursuing the flying infantry. His active form was always seen in the thickest of the fight. When the line was formed in the Plaza, Zagonyi noticed the bugler, and approaching him said, “In the midst of the battle you disobeyed my order. You are unworthy to be a member of the Guard. I dismiss you.” The bugler showed his bugle to his indignant commander; —the mouth-piece of the instrument was shot away. He said, “The mouth was shoot off. I could not bugle viz mon bugle, and so I bugle viz mon pistol and sabre.” It is unnecessary to add, the brave Frenchman was not dismissed.

I must not forget to mention Sergeant Hunter, of the Kentucky company. His soldierly figure never failed to attract the eye in the ranks of the Guard. He had served in the regular cavalry, and the Body-Guard had profited greatly from his skill as a drill-master. He lost three horses in the fight. As soon as one was killed, he caught another from the Rebels: the third horse taken by him in this way he rode into St. Louis.

The Sergeant slew five men. “I won’t speak of those I shot,” said he, —“another may have hit them; but those I touched with my sabre I am sure of, because I felt them.”

At the beginning of the charge, he came to the extreme right and took position next to Zagonyi, whom he followed closely through the battle. The Major, seeing him, said,—

“Why are you here, Sergeant Hunter? Your place is with your company on the left.”

“I kind o’ wanted to be in the front,” was the answer.

“What could I say to such a man?” exclaimed Zagonyi, speaking of the matter afterwards.

There was hardly a horse or rider among the survivors that did not bring away some mark of the fray. I saw one animal with no less than seven wounds, —none of them serious. Scabbards were bent, clothes and caps pierced, pistols injured. I saw one pistol from which the sight had been cut as neatly as it could have been done by machinery. A piece of board a few inches long was cut from a fence on the field, in which there were thirty-one shot-holes.

It was now nine o’clock. The wounded had been carried to the hospital. The dismounted troopers were placed in charge of them,—in the double capacity of nurses and guards. Zagonyi expected the foe to return every minute. It seemed like madness to try and hold the town with his small force, exhausted by the long march and desperate fight. He therefore left Springfield, and retired before morning twenty-five miles on the Bolivar road.

Captain Fairbanks did not see his commander after leaving the column in the lane, at the commencement of the engagement. About dusk he repaired to the prairie, and remained there within a mile of the village until midnight, when he followed Zagonyi, rejoining him in the morning.

I will now return to Major White. During the conflict upon the hill, he was in the forest near the front of the Rebel line. Here his horse was shot under him. Captain Wroton kept careful watch over him. When the flight began he hurried White away, and, accompanied by a squad of eleven men, took him ten miles into the country. They stopped at a farm-house for the night. White discovered that their host was a Union man. His parole having expired, he took advantage of the momentary absence of his captor to speak to the farmer, telling him who he was, and asking him to send for assistance. The countryman mounted his son upon his swiftest horse, and sent him for succor. The party lay down by the fire, White being placed in the midst. The Rebels were soon asleep, but there was no sleep for the Major. He listened anxiously for the footsteps of his rescuers. After long, weary hours, he heard the tramp of horses. He arose, and walking on tiptoe, cautiously stepping over his sleeping guards, he reached the door and silently unfastened it. The Union men rushed into the room and took the astonished Wroton and his followers prisoners. At daybreak White rode into Springfield at the head of his captives and a motley band of Home-Guards. He found the Federals still in possession of the place. As the officer of highest rank, he took command. His garrison consisted of twenty-four men. He stationed twenty-two of them as pickets in the outskirts of the village, and held the other two as a reserve. At noon the enemy sent in a flag of truce, and asked permission to bury their dead. Major White received the flag with proper ceremony, but said that General Sigel was in command and the request would have to be referred to him. Sigel was then forty miles away. In a short time a written communication purporting to come from General Sigel, saying that the Rebels might send a party under certain restrictions to bury their dead, White drew in some of his pickets, stationed them about the field, and under their surveillance the Southern dead were buried.

The loss of the enemy, as reported by some of their working party, was one hundred and sixteen killed. The number of wounded could not be ascertained. After the conflict had drifted away from the hill-side, some of the foe had returned to the field, taken away their wounded, and robbed our dead. The loss of the Guard was fifty-three out of one hundred and forty-eight actually engaged, twelve men having been left by Zagonyi in charge of his train. The Prairie Scouts reported a loss of thirty-one out of one hundred and thirty: half of these belonged to the Irish Dragoons. In a neighboring field an Irishman was found stark and stiff, still clinging to the hilt of his sword, which was thrust through the body of a Rebel who lay beside him. Within a few feet a second Rebel lay, shot through the head.

I have given a statement of this affair drawn from the testimony taken before a Court of Inquiry, from conversations with men who were engaged upon both sides, and from a careful examination of the locality. It was the first essay of raw troops, and yet there are few more brilliant achievements in history.

It is humiliating to be obliged to tell what followed. The heroism of the Guard was rewarded by such treatment as we blush to record. Upon their return to St. Louis, rations and forage were denied them, the men were compelled to wear the clothing soiled and torn in battle, they were promptly disbanded, and the officers retired from service. The swords which pricked the clouds and let the joyful sunshine of victory into the darkness of constant defeat are now idle. But the fame of the Guard is secure. Out from that fiery baptism they came children of the nation, and American song and story will carry their heroic triumph down to the latest generation.